Carbon emissions in the United Kingdom have increased since 1980 - if “embedded” emissions are taken into account – with Professor Robert Watson, the Government’s chief environmental scientist, calling for more openness in the publishing of statistics, which can be misleading.
As part of a Radio 4 series on climate change which will be aired on Monday, Professor Watson says:
“At face value UK emissions look like they have decreased 15 per cent or 16 per cent since 1990. But if you take in carbon embedded in our imports, our emissions have gone up about 12 per cent. We have got to be more open about this.”
Responding, the Government said that measuring embedded emissions would be difficult to calculate and to verify, a spokesperson from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) told the BBC:
“While some emission reductions have resulted from the trend for manufacturing to move overseas, international rules state that emissions from manufacturing are counted by the country of production.”
And Mike Childs, head of climate change at Friends of the Earth, said:
“Professor Watson is right that if we include the import of products the carbon footprint of the UK has been steadily increasing rather than declining.
“The Government should also push for an international climate agreement that helps developing countries increase their use of clean technology to generate electricity, which would reduce the carbon footprint of the products we buy from them.”
As Left Foot Forward reported earlier this week, US deputy special climate envoy Jonathan Pershing has expressed concern for the lack of progress after the Climate Conference in Copenhagen last year. Many of the world’s most developed countries pledged to provide $30 billion between 2010-12 to help the developing world to combat climate change. They will now be held to account ia a website launched today – aimed at tracking contributions.