MPs: UK effectively ‘outsourcing’ its emissions

The UK is effectively outsourcing its emissions, MPs warned today in a report which demands the Government be more “straightforward” about the impact of the UK on climate change. MPs […]

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By Vicky Ellis

The UK is effectively outsourcing its emissions, MPs warned today in a report which demands the Government be more “straightforward” about the impact of the UK on climate change.

MPs on the energy select committee claim the UK isn’t doing as well at cutting emissions as Government statistics suggest.

They make a distinction between ‘territorial’ emissions – those literally given off on UK soil – and emissions produced by making products used in the UK in other countries.

Tim Yeo, Chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Committee said: “Successive governments have claimed to be cutting climate-changing emissions, but in fact a lot of pollution has simply been outsourced overseas.”

While DECC likes to argue the UK is only responsible for 2% of the world’s CO2 emissions, he says the Government’s own research shows this not to be the case.

He added: “The UK can scarcely lecture countries like China for failing to sign up to binding emissions cuts when much of their pollution is produced makinf products for us and other high-consumption economies.”

Official CO2 figures from DECC, covering emissions within UK borders, show a nearly 20% reduction between 1990–2009.

However the report suggests this is because lots of manufacturers moved their operations out of the UK, as well as a big switch from coal to gas-fired electricity.

Furthermore, the committee’s report damns the Government for suggesting the only way to affect emissions linked with UK consumption is for the countries where the emissions originate to cut their own carbon.

Evidence given to the committee from major energy users, during its consultation into emissions, suggested relying solely on one method of calculating emissions – the territorial approach – gave a “false view” of the UK’s total contribution to climate change.

The MPs want the Government to stop relying on the ‘territorial’ model for emissions and refer to the consumption-based figures when drafting policy.