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Sir David King, Andrew Simms: end offshoring of emissions

In yesterday’s Guardian, Sir David King, former Government Chief Scientist, called on rich nations to tackle the emissions they outsourced overseas:

Sir David King, director of the Smith School of Enterprise at the University of Oxford and former chief scientific advisor to the UK government, said the emissions rise showed how developed countries had exported their greenhouse gases to the developing world. This is because the migration of heavy manufacturing industry to developing countries has raised emissions in emerging economies, while rich countries still benefit from the results as they buy back the manufactured goods. More emissions are associated with the manufacture of most modern goods than with their use… Forthcoming research led by King that sets out these problems in detail chimes with studies from the Carbon Trust and others that have found similar effects.

Today’s paper includes a piece by nef’s Andrew Simms who argues for the problem to be tackled head-on:

Stop using fantasy carbon accounting that allows rich countries to “offshore” their emissions. The current system dumps responsibility for the pollution created by manufacturing goods on the exporting country, not on the country that demanded and ultimately consumes the product. It allows countries like the UK to look much better than we really are, creating an illusion of progress and resulting in complacency.

Guardian assesses Carbon Trust data, speaks to PIRC

The Guardian’s Duncan Clark has today penned a piece on the Carbon Trust’s new data showing how UK carbon emissions will continue to rise when imports are factored in.

Asked for our response, we told him: “Until government starts accounting for outsourced emissions officially, it’s continuing to tell a convenient lie about the true scale of our carbon addiction.”

Carbon Trust reveals UK emissions likely to rise into the 2020s

This piece was originally published on Left Food Forward.

The Carbon Trust has today released new data revealing how the UK’s total carbon emissions are likely to rise into the 2020s, despite legally-binding targets to cut domestic emissions by a third.

The figures, shown in the graph below and available for download here, have been calculated by including emissions embodied in the goods and services that the UK imports – often called ‘outsourced emissions’ – and adding these to the official tally of domestic emissions.

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Why the doubters are wrong about green jobs in Scotland 1

This is a guest post from Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Energy Campaigner, Beth Stratford.

The Scotsman printed a two page spread in the lead up to the Scottish election warning that the SNP’s target for 100% renewable electricity by 2020 would ‘wreak significant damage on the Scottish Labour market’, citing as evidence a report called ‘Worth The Candle?’ by Verso Economics, which concluded that for every job created in the renewable sector, 3.7 are destroyed elsewhere in the economy.

But this head-line grabbing statistic, which has been picked up at full tilt by nimbies and climate sceptics, deserves some closer scrutiny.

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PIRC turns 40

This year, PIRC turns forty.

We were founded in 1971 by campaigner Charles Medawar and veteran social entrepreneur Michael Young, who also set up, amongst many other organisations, the Open University. PIRC’s creation was inspired by the work of legendary US civic activist Ralph Nader, and it was his brand of activism – using careful research and cogent advocacy to empower citizens and hold governments and companies to account – that Medawar and Young sought to bring to British shores.

PIRC in its 1970s incarnation, replete with cool hair. Read more

Media roundup: outsourced emissions

There’s been a flurry of media interest in outsourced emissions in recent weeks, here’s a quick round-up:

Maybe it’s time to stop talking about behaviour change? 8

Ro Randall is founder and director of Cambridge Carbon Footprint, a Cambridge based charity that uses approaches drawn from psychotherapy and community work to engage diverse audiences in work on climate change. She blogs at rorandall.org.

Behaviour change is the new black – although the idea has been around for a while it is increasingly the mantra of those working on climate change. Funders are interested in it. Government swears by it. Researchers puzzle over it. Voluntary organisations take it as their agenda. What’s not to like?

Lots. Read more

How to cut carbon in China

This piece was originally published on the 10:10 blog.

Factoid of the day: China builds about 8 coal power stations a month. Lesser known fact: roughly 2-3 of these power stations are built to make stuff for us in the rest of the world to consume. That’s right: between a quarter and a third of China’s emissions are ultimately the responsibility of us shoppers in the west and elsewhere. China may be the world’s biggest emitter, but it is also the world’s workshop – meaning we’ve happily outsourced a big chunk of our carbon eastwards.

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UK’s total emissions set to rise: new data obtained by PIRC 3

The UK’s total emissions are set to rise, PIRC can reveal – as shown in yet-to-be-published calculations by the government’s Carbon Trust.

Whilst on paper, Britain’s carbon emissions have declined, in reality they have grown – once emissions from imported goods are factored in. From a consumption perspective, the UK’s emissions have risen by 19% since 1990. New data from the Carbon Trust shows that by 2025 the UK’s total carbon footprint could actually be bigger than it is today, despite legally-binding targets to cut it by a third. Whilst domestic emissions will look smaller, almost half of the country’s footprint will be unseen, as the emissions will originate overseas.

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Climate change breaks NASA’s temperature charts 1

Guest post by Kate at Climate Sight.

The Arctic is getting so warm in winter that James Hansen had to add a new colour to the standard legend – pink, which is even warmer than dark red:

The official NASA maps – the ones you can generate yourself – didn’t add this new colour, though. They simply extended the range of dark red on the legend to whatever the maximum anomaly is – in some cases, as much as 11.1C:

The legend goes up in small, smooth steps: a range of 0.3 C, 0.5 C, 1 C, 2 C. Then, suddenly, 6 or 7 C.

I’m sure this is a result of algorithms that haven’t been updated to accommodate such extreme anomalies. However, since very few people examine the legend beyond recognizing that red is warm and blue is cold, the current legend seems sort of misleading. Am I the only one who feels this way?