A news story today apparently sent some in Whitehall into a bit of a tail spin – according to the BBC:
Professor David MacKay told the BBC that reductions in carbon dioxide emissions since 1990 are “an illusion”. “Our energy footprint has decreased over the last few decades and that’s largely because we’ve exported our industry,” he said.
Now is it just me but this sounds just a little illogical. If we are going to count our imports then we have to subtract our exports from our carbon footprint. And heavily exporting countries like China, Japan and Germany would suddenly see huge reductions in their carbon footprints, purely through an accounting change.
Does it really make sense to say China isn’t rapidly increasing their emissions because most of the stuff they produce is exported? On that logic it would be OK for them to build the 500 coal fired power stations they are planning, because they could blame everyone else for buying the goods produced from this power.
For good or ill the unit of analysis for emissions is countries and the only thing that makes sense is to count the emissions, and only the emissions, produced within their borders. Or am I missing something? Prof. Mackay might have been misquoted or misunderstood, but if so he should put the record straight.