The UK has been less successful at cutting greenhouse gas emissions than the official record claims as nearly half our carbon footprint now comes from emissions released overseas to produce imported goods, a report has said.
Emissions from making products such as clothing, foods and electronics imported into the UK are counted in official statistics as the responsibility of the manufacturing country, not Britain.
These “hidden emissions” accounted for 46 per cent of the UK’s overall carbon footprint last year, according to the report by the University of Leeds. The proportion has grown rapidly from 14 per cent in 1990 partly because of the closure of some UK manufacturing and a shift to importing more of the energy-intensive goods consumed here.
Between 1990 and 2016 emissions within the UK’s borders fell by 41 per cent but the consumption-based footprint dropped by only 15 per cent, mainly due to imported goods and services.
The UK last year made a legally binding commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2050 but this target excludes emissions from producing imports.