Global outsourcing of carbon emissions 1995–2009: A reassessment

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T1 - Global outsourcing of carbon emissions 1995–2009: A reassessment

AU - Baumert, Nicolai

AU - Kander, Astrid

AU - Jiborn, Magnus

AU - Kulionis, Viktoras

AU - Nielsen, Tobias

PY - 2019

Y1 - 2019

N2 - Increasing global production fragmentation allows for outsourcing of emissions, which may undermine national climate policies. Researchers focusing on the gap between consumption-based and production-based emissions have concluded that developed countries are systematically outsourcing emissions to developing countries. However, asymmetries in emissions embodied in trade may emerge due to differences in carbon intensity of energy and production between different countries, and need not be evidence of outsourcing. This study investigates if previous results concerning emission in –and outsourcing of developed and developing countries hold when emission flows are adjusted for technological differences. Two striking results are demonstrated: first, the magnitude of outsourcing is significantly smaller than previous studies have suggested, and, second, there is no clear divide between developing and developed countries. Large developed Anglophone countries (US, UK, Canada and Australia) were increasingly outsourcing emissions between 1995 and 2009 by shifting toward more carbon-intensive goods in their imports and less carbon intensive goods in exports, whereas other developed countries (i.e. the Nordics, advanced Asia and even the aggregate EU-27) maintained a positive emission trade balance. Among major developing countries, China is a major insourcer of emissions, while other emerging economies show no consistent pattern (e.g. India, Turkey and Brazil) or marginal outsourcing (e.g. Indonesia and Mexico). These results contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the impact of international trade on global carbon emissions.

AB - Increasing global production fragmentation allows for outsourcing of emissions, which may undermine national climate policies. Researchers focusing on the gap between consumption-based and production-based emissions have concluded that developed countries are systematically outsourcing emissions to developing countries. However, asymmetries in emissions embodied in trade may emerge due to differences in carbon intensity of energy and production between different countries, and need not be evidence of outsourcing. This study investigates if previous results concerning emission in –and outsourcing of developed and developing countries hold when emission flows are adjusted for technological differences. Two striking results are demonstrated: first, the magnitude of outsourcing is significantly smaller than previous studies have suggested, and, second, there is no clear divide between developing and developed countries. Large developed Anglophone countries (US, UK, Canada and Australia) were increasingly outsourcing emissions between 1995 and 2009 by shifting toward more carbon-intensive goods in their imports and less carbon intensive goods in exports, whereas other developed countries (i.e. the Nordics, advanced Asia and even the aggregate EU-27) maintained a positive emission trade balance. Among major developing countries, China is a major insourcer of emissions, while other emerging economies show no consistent pattern (e.g. India, Turkey and Brazil) or marginal outsourcing (e.g. Indonesia and Mexico). These results contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the impact of international trade on global carbon emissions.

KW - Carbon leakage

KW - Climate mitigation

KW - Emission outsourcing

KW - Input-output analysis

KW - Emissions embodied in trade

KW - Consumption-based accounting

U2 - 10.1016/j.envsci.2018.10.010

DO - 10.1016/j.envsci.2018.10.010

M3 - Article

VL - 92

SP - 228

EP - 236

JO - Environmental Science and Policy

T2 - Environmental Science and Policy

JF - Environmental Science and Policy

SN - 1462-9011

ER -