Imported emissions mean the UK’s carbon footprint didn’t peak as early as widely believed.
That’s the claim from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which says emissions produced when the UK imports foreign-manufactured products significantly increase the environmental impact of the national economy.
It notes while directly-produced carbon emissions peaked in 1972, total carbon emissions created by the UK economy peaked thirty-five years later in 2007 – imported emissions account for this difference.
The ONS says the main sources of these imported emissions are China, from which imported emissions totalled 82 million tonnes in 2015, followed by the EU at 45 million tonnes and the US at 24 million tonnes.
Senior Economist Amina Syed said: “While directly produced UK emissions have been falling for many years, once you take account of the UK importing products from abroad, the picture doesn’t look quite so positive.
“However, UK based firms, particularly those in the transport and energy sectors, have made big strides in recent years in reducing their carbon footprints.”