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The effect of trade between China and the UK on national and global carbon dioxide emissions

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date06/2008
JournalEnergy Policy
Journal number6
Volume36
Number of pages8
Pages1907-1914
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

We estimate the amount of carbon dioxide embodied in bi-lateral trade between the UK and China in 2004. Developing and applying the method of Shui and Harriss [2006. Tile role of CO2 embodiment in US-China trade. Energy Policy 34, 4063-4068], the most recently available data on trade and CO2 emissions have been updated and adjusted to calculate the CO2 emissions embodied in the commodities traded between China and the UK. It was found that through trade with China, the UK reduced its CO2 emissions by approximately 11% in 2004, compared with a non-trade scenario in which the same type and volume of goods are produced in the UK. In addition, due to the greater carbon-intensity and relatively less efficient production processes of Chinese industry, China-UK trade resulted in an additional 117 Mt of CO2 to global CO2 emissions in the same one year period, compared with a non-trade scenario in which the same type and volume of goods are produced in the UK. This represents an additional 19% to the reported national CO2 emissions of the UK (555 Mt/y in 2004) and 0.4% of global emissions. These findings suggest that, through international trade, very significant environmental impacts can be shifted front one country to another, and that international trade can (but does not necessarily) result in globally increased greenhouse gas emissions. These results are additional to the environmental consequences of transporting goods, which are not robustly quantified here. (c) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.