Are UK emissions falling or being outsourced?

The UK’s carbon footprint increased by 3% between 2012 and 2013, according to official figures. The carbon footprint refers to emissions from the UK’s consumption of goods and services, wherever in […]

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By Jonny Bairstow

The UK’s carbon footprint increased by 3% between 2012 and 2013, according to official figures.

The carbon footprint refers to emissions from the UK’s consumption of goods and services, wherever in the world these emissions happen along the supply chain.

It also includes emissions generated by UK households through things like driving cars.

Defra’s report states the 3% increase is potentially due to increased imports, meaning that although less greenhouse gases might be emitted in Britain, demand for products overseas could be creating more emissions elsewhere.

Since 1997, the UK economy has continued to move from a manufacturing base towards the services sector. One of the consequences of this is more of the goods we buy and use are now produced overseas, mainly in China, it adds.

The report shows the UK carbon footprint peaked in 2007 at 1,296 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents in 2007, with emissions relating to imports up 41% from 1997.

In 2013, emissions were 19% lower than in 2007 but import related emissions were still 10% higher than in 1997. In 2013 Chinese import emissions were 112% higher than in 1997.

Emissions in 2013 relating to the consumption of goods and services produced in the UK were 26% lower than in 1997.