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China's rich provinces outsource emissions to less developed areas

10 Jun 2013

Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian

Rich coastal provinces of China are outsourcing their greenhouse gas emissions by importing goods from less developed provinces, according to scientists. The practice makes it far less likely that China - the world's biggest emitter - will reach its climate goals, the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences said.

"Recent studies have shown that the high standard of living enjoyed by people in the richest countries often come at the expense of CO2 emissions produced with technologies of low-efficiency in less affluent, developing countries," the study said. "Less apparent is that this relationship between developed and developing can exist within a single country's borders."

China and America agreed on Saturday to work with other countries to reduce hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) . HFCs, which are used for air conditioning and refrigeration, are an extremely potent greenhouse gas on a 10 or 20-year timeframe, and contribute significantly to climate change.

But the two biggest emitters have yet to show such leadership in cutting carbon dioxide. And as the study suggests, China's efforts to reduce the growth of greenhouse gas emissions without damaging its rapid economic growth were being undermined by carbon outsourcing.

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