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Report finds that 26% of global CO2 emissions come from traded goods and services

Global CO2 emissions from the production of traded goods and services have increased from 4.3 Gt CO2 in 1990 (20% of global anthropogenic emissions) to 7.8 Gt CO2 in 2008 (26%), according to a new open access study by researchers from Germany and the US, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Despite the emergence of regional climate policies, growth in global CO2 emissions has remained strong. From 1990 to 2008 CO2 emissions in developed countries (defined as countries with emission reduction commitments in the Kyoto Protocol, Annex B) have stabilized, but emissions in developing countries (non-Annex B) have doubled. Some studies suggest that the stabilization of emissions in developed countries was partially because of growing imports from developing countries.

To quantify the growth in emission transfers via international trade, Peters et al. developed a trade-linked global database for CO2 emissions covering 113 countries and 57 economic sectors from 1990 to 2008.

They found that most developed countries have increased their consumption-based emissions faster than their territorial emissions, and non–energy-intensive manufacturing had a key role in the emission transfers.

The net emission transfers via international trade from developing to developed countries increased from 0.4 Gt CO2 in 1990 to 1.6 Gt CO2 in 2008, which exceeds the Kyoto Protocol emission reductions.

Our results indicate that international trade is a significant factor in explaining the change in emissions in many countries, from both a production and consumption perspective. We suggest that countries monitor emission transfers via international trade, in addition to territorial emissions, to ensure progress toward stabilization of global greenhouse gas emissions.

—Peters et al.


  • Glen P. Peters, Jan C. Minx, Christopher L. Weber, and Ottmar Edenhofer (2011) Growth in emission transfers via international trade from 1990 to 2008. PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1006388108



The AGW behemoth blunders on, ignorant of the fact that human beings are no longer impressed with the alarmist message.

However, the recent introduction of the world's first mass produced EVs and the rise in cost of gasoline has reinforced the urgency to transition from fossil fuel to electrification. And that is a good thing.

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