The U.K. must account for rising greenhouse-gas emissions linked to imports over the past two decades as pollution falls, according to a panel of lawmakers.
Volumes of gases including carbon dioxide released from products consumed in the U.K. rose about 12 percent from 1990 to 2009 while discharges from activities within the nation’s borders fell about 28 percent in that period, according to a report published today by the Energy and Climate Change Committee, a group of cross-party lawmakers headed by Tim Yeo.
Britain “runs the risk of designing energy and climate change policies that produce perverse unintended consequences,” Yeo said in a statement accompanying the report on the committee’s website. “The U.K. can scarcely lecture countries like China for failing to sign up to binding emissions cuts when much of their pollution is produced making products for us.”
The U.K. is the only country in the world to set itself a legally binding target to slash emissions by 2050 of carbon dioxide, a gas blamed for helping trigger climate change. The nation plans to replace fossil-fuel power stations with nuclear and wind sources and switch to electricity for heating and transport to cut emissions 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050.
The government shouldn’t only rely on measuring emissions in Britain and should factor in gases released during the manufacture of goods consumed in the U.K., according to the 148-page report. Domestic releases dropped during the period largely because of a switch to more natural gas from coal in power generation and as manufacturing industries shifted to countries including India and China.
Recognizing emissions produced outside the country may help in creating a global deal to tackle climate change, according the report.