Thursday, March 19, 2009

Who is really really responsible for China's carbon footprint?

I've been amidst many discussions where concerns about reducing worlds carbon foot print are discussed. One aspect of this concern is how focusing on reducing only our own foot print or that of United States is not going to be of much help if China and India don't reduce their foot print too.

All that while I am thinking that who is really responsible for China's foot print? Most parts of their footprints are due to producing stuff not for their own consumption but for the western worlds never ending wants. The left over part is their own but, when we see the per person carbon foot print for an average Asian and compare it to the west we understand the real picture.

Carbon dioxide emissions per capita.
(This is a list of countries by carbon dioxide emissions per capita from 1990 through 2004. All data were calculated by the US Department of Energy's Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC), mostly based on data collected from country agencies by the United Nations Statistics Division.)

Now the interesting question is who should pay for the carbon emissions of China? According to an article in The Guardian - China thinks, consuming nations should.

"Consuming nations should pay for carbon dioxide emissions, not manufacturing countries, says China" - Tuesday 17 March 2009

The article goes on to say - " Several recent academic papers have noted how European nations have outsourced emissions and other forms of pollution to developing nations instead of tackling emissions at home. According to Oslo's Center for International Climate and Environmental Research, a third of all Chinese emissions are linked to exports, with 9 per cent caused by exports to the US, and 6 per cent from producing goods for Europe."

Another article in New Scientist "33% of China's carbon footprint blamed on exports " says -

"International policy at the moment tends to penalize the country which produces goods rather than the one that consumes them.

"In some measure, it makes sense if people buy goods and become liable for the emissions generated when the goods are produced," says Benito Müller of the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, UK. "They will certainly be more choosy about what they buy."

How to fairly apportion the liability for China's exported emissions "is the million-dollar question", says Weber."

Image courtesy - Guardian

I personally am totally convinced that the responsibility of neutralizing the emissions lie with the consumer of the goods. After all if we didn't buy another toy or coffee maker, no one would feel the need to produce newer, smaller or more complicated stuff.

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