Friday, May 04, 2007

Now here is an interesting question, one we should all ponder.

Where to count manufacturing emissions: With end-users in the West, or the producers in China?

This is an issue that has been discussed indirectly in several of EarthEchoes earlier postings. Much of the carbon emissions from the developing world, from that of coal burning factories to power Chinese export industries to cutting down large tracts of tropical forests are the result of consumer demands in developed countries for ever cheaper products. If only consumers stopped to think about why they can get such a wealth of products (almost everything produced in China, India or other developing nations) at such low costs I think they would be surprised. Well, the answer is in part because it comes at the expense of the environment in these countries and now at such a rate that it is seriously affecting the global environment. The consumers themselves are demanding it, and thus indirectly (I would venture to say directly) causing huge changes to the global climate. And add to this the cabon emissions resulting from shipping these goods around the world, which alone add significant amounts of carbon emission.

What in effect is happening is that the developed part of the world has "exported" its carbon emissions to the developing world. If the same goods that are consumed in the the developed world were to have been produced where consumed the carbon emissions would have been many times higher in the developed part of the world, and equally lower in the developing world. The same goes for timber. If the same amount of timber that are consumed in the developed part of the world would have come from forests where consumption happens the developed part of the world would not have a single tree left standing. It is too easy to blame developing countries for their bad environmental records when consumers elsewhere are as much to blame. Hence, there is no question that the already industrialized countries must work to help the developing nations tackle their environmental challenges. It is a moral question as much as an environmental one.


Add to this consumers' thirst for ever cheaper air fares, consumers' demand for low gasoline prices, etc. and it is no small wonder that earth's resources are depleted at dangerous levels and that our greenhouse gasses are wrecking havoc with the global climate.

BBC published today an article on their website with the title Paradox of China's emissions. It is a good read and makes you think.

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