Fall in UK-produced emissions has been offset by those from increase in imported products
Britain has contributed to the global climate emergency by outsourcing its carbon emissions to developing nations, according to official figures, despite managing to weaken the domestic link between fossil fuels and economic growth.
The Office for National Statistics said the UK had become the biggest net importer of carbon dioxide emissions per capita in the G7 group of wealthy nations – outstripping the US and Japan – as a result of buying goods manufactured abroad.
The ONS warned that Britain had increased its net imports of CO2 emissions per capita from 1.7 tonnes in 1992 to 5.1 tonnes in 2007, offsetting domestic progress on shifting the UK economy away from fossil fuels.
According to the ONS study, China was the biggest single source of Britain’s imported emissions, as the UK ramped up purchases of goods such as mobile phones made in the Asian country, where labour costs are lower and pollution regulations less stringent. The second biggest contributor to imported emissions was the EU, followed by the US.
The ONS warned that environmental damage could not be stopped by nation’s simply relocating the production of goods from advanced to developing nations.