Steffen Hentrich here of the Liberal Institute, a think tank of the Friedrich-Naumann-Foundation for Freedom brings our attention here to a PNAS paper written by Glen P. Peters, Jan C. Minx, Christopher L. Weber and Ottmar Edenhofer titled: Growth in emission transfers via international trade from 1990 to 2008.
Though not saying it directly, the paper calls current climate policy a failure. It’s right there in the very first sentence (emphasis added):
Despite the emergence of regional climate policies, growth in global CO2 emissions has remained strong. From 1990 to 2008 CO2 emissions in developed countries (defined as countries with emission reduction commitments in the Kyoto Protocol, Annex B) have stabilized, but emissions in developing countries (non-Annex B) have doubled.”
That folks, is what we call POLICY FAILURE – period. In fact climate policy has likely produced just the opposite of what was intended, meaning more CO2 and not less.
The authors quantified the growth in emission transfers via international trade. To do this they developed a trade-linked global database for CO2 emissions covering 113 countries and 57 economic sectors from 1990 to 2008. Here’s what they found, taken from the front page:
…emissions from the production of traded goods and services have increased from 4.3 Gt CO2 in 1990 (20% of global emissions) to 7.8 Gt CO2 in 2008 (26%). Most developed countries have increased their consumption-based emissions faster than their territorial emissions, and non–energy-intensive manufacturing had a key role in the emission transfers. The net emission transfers via international trade from developing to developed countries increased from 0.4 Gt CO2 in 1990 to 1.6 Gt CO2 in 2008, which exceeds the Kyoto Protocol emission reductions. Our results indicate that international trade is a significant factor in explaining the change in emissions in many countries, from both a production and consumption perspective.”
What does all that mean? It means that the developed countries are simply moving their CO2-intensive industry off their territory, and placing it on territories that are exempt from mandatory reductions, i.e developing countries. This what they call emissions transfer. The result: less CO2 emissions at home, but huge, greater increases in the less efficient country that took over the industry. This is what the study has confirmed.
Indeed the whole scheme backfires because undeveloped countries often have lower environmental and technical standards, and so produce the goods with considerably higher emissions and real pollution. Then add the transport of these goods from these developing countries back to Europe or North America, which adds even more CO2. And let’s not even look at the biofuels debacle the fossil fuel hysteria led to.
The PNAS paper writes in the discussion part (emphasis added:
Under the IPCC accounting rules of only reporting territorial emissions, many developed countries have reported stabilized emissions. However, our results show that the global emissions associated with consumption in many developed countries have increased with a large share of the emissions originating in developing countries. This finding may benefit economic growth in developing countries, but the increased emissions could also make future mitigation more costly in the developing countries. In addition, we find that the emission transfers via international trade often exceed the emission reductions in the developed countries.”
So what do the environmental and economic masterminds intend to do about it? Not much for now. Solving the emissions transfer problem of course would mean massive interference in global markets and end up punishing developing countries. The authors recommend:
We suggest that countries monitor emission transfers via international trade, in addition to territorial emissions, to ensure progress toward stabilization of global greenhouse gas emissions.”
Monitor? Now they don’t mean that countries start thinking of ways to restrict trade, now do they? The more they meddle with the economy and trade, the more they are going to mess everything up.