Who is responsible for China’s Carbon emissions?

14 Feb

Since China surpassed the USA as the country with the highest level of carbon emissions in 2006, and it also being suggested that by 2017 that it will overtake USA per capita as well, it is now widely recognised that China to reduce their Carbon emissions, (Viddal and Adam, 2007; Treacy, 2011).


Although developing countries are constantly under pressure to commit to binding emissions cuts, China is constantly resistant partially due to their reluctance to accept the responsibility for the emissions involving producing goods for foreign markets. Under Kyoto, emissions are allocated to countries where emissions are produced rather than the market in which they are sold and live out the rest of their life. Through these rules the UK can be seen to have reduced their emissions by 18% since 1990 in comparison to China whose emissions can be seen to have risen approximately 10% the past decade (McGrath, 2013). According to research published by the Stockholm Environment Institute once imports, exports and international travel are accounted for, the real change for the UK has been a rise in emissions of more than 20%. China’s role as the world’s biggest export manufacturer is key in explaining these discrepancies (Watt, 2008).


However, it has to be asked whether it is Chinas responsibility to reduce these emissions or that of the developed countries that have outsourced much of their manufacturing to the country. With exports to the UK and the rest of the EU being responsible for 15% of Chinas carbon emissions, it has to be looked into as to whether it is up to China to decrease their carbon emissions or whether it should be up to those in the western economy to change their habits meaning a smaller reliance will be seen on outsourcing manufacturing to China (Watt, 2008). Even if in the future there was a deal based on consumption rather than production of CO2 it is unclear how these national figures would be calculated with the only clear way to register emissions being in the country of origin rather than the whole global accounting system for greenhouse gases will be undermined by the complexity of the system. This is demonstrated through the fact that recent research focuses on 2002-2005 as data is not yet available for subsequent years. One way that challenges could be overcome is through political will and enforcing things such as a border tax on carbon transfer (Clark, 2009). No solution is going to be able to be developed until countries agree to work together and come to an agreement on how carbon emissions can best be measured and therefore whether Kyoto targets can then be met.




Clark, D. 2009, West blamed for rapid increase in China’s CO2, The Guardian, Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2009/feb/23/china-co2-emissions-climate [Accessed 14/02/2014]

Treacy, M. 2011, China May Surpass U.S. Per Capita Carbon Emission Levels By 2017, The Eco Geek, Available at: http://www.ecogeek.org/component/content/article/3603-china-may-surpass-us-per-capita-carbon-emission-le, [Accessed 14/02/2014]


Viddal, J. and Adam, D. 2007, China overtakes USA as world’s biggest CO2 emitter, The Guardian,  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2007/jun/19/china.usnews [Accessed 14/02/2014]

Watt, R. 2008, Carbon Dioxide emissions associated with UK consumption increase, Stockholm Environmental Institute, Available at: http://www.sei-international.org/index.php/news-and-media/1276-carbon-dioxide-emissions-associated-with-uk-consumption-increase [Accessed: 14/02/2014]


One Response to “Who is responsible for China’s Carbon emissions?”

  1. Harrison Dunn February 14, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    (Liu, Jayanthakumaran and Neri, 2013) Suggest that the consumption based method is more appropriate as it allocates responsibilities according to final consumption.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: