Outsourced Pollution

Who bears the responsibility for the “outsourced emissions” generated by countries who consume vast quantities of goods that are manufactured overseas?

"It's fairly straightforward to measure how much carbon dioxide a given country is emitting within its own borders. Just count the factories and power plants and cars and so forth and tally up all that pollution. But what about outsourced emissions? After all, the United States and Europe consume a whole bunch of goods manufactured overseas, and those emissions usually get chalked up to developing countries like China. So who bears the responsibility here? It's a dicey question, though the first step is to get a handle on how much carbon pollution actually gets outsourced. And the answer seems to be: quite a bit. A new study by Steven Davis and Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science finds that the United States outsources about 11 percent of its emissions abroad, while Japan outsources nearly 18 percent and European nations outsource anywhere from 20 percent to 50 percent of their emissions—most of it to developing countries. On the flip side, nearly one-quarter of China's emissions, for instance, go into making goods for other countries."

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Image courtesy of Pfizer.
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