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Whose responsibility are global carbon emissions?

New map of carbon emissions illustrates the global effects of imports and exports

A team led by MPRC Faculty Associates Klaus Hubacek and Kuishuang Feng has created a new map of carbon emissions that takes into account both imported and exported goods, reassigning responsibility for carbon emissions to the countries where products are consumed, not where they are produced. The new map is a dramatic illustration of global patterns of production and consumption. When imports and exports are taken into account, relatively wealthy countries such as the United States are ultimately responsible for an overwhelming percentage of carbon emissions in developing countries like China. China is one of the largest carbon emitters in the world, but most products that are produced in China using coal-based energy are shipped around the world to be consumed in wealthier countries like the United States. Dr. Hubacek has described this process as “carbon outsourcing.”

At recent climate talks in Warsaw, China, India, and other developing countries pushed for “historical" carbon emitters such as the European Union and the United States to cut their carbon emissions first.

Read the story and view the map on Scienceline