China 'not to blame for climate change'

Posted: 5 December 2007

When the UK's carbon emissions include imports from China, the average UK citizen's carbon footprint increases by 10 per cent according to new research released today.

The report, from the World Development Movement, rejects the 'blame China for climate change' culture and reveals what it says is a more accurate picture of the UK's responsibility for climate change by accounting for the carbon emissions caused by the massive consumption of products from overseas.

When global trade is taken into account, the average UK citizen is responsible for four times the emissions of an average person in China, the report says. The average annual per person CO2 emissions in tonnes, without trade are 9.6 in the UK as againsat 4.1 in China. But including trade these figures change to 9.6 in UK as against 4.1 in China. Blame game

Pete Hardstaff, head of policy at the World Development Movement, who is in Bali, said: "The very real danger at the Bali conference is the talks breaking down in a pointless blame game. If this is to be avoided, rich countries like the UK must recognise their responsibility for fuelling climate change, not only with emissions created on our shores but also with our massive consumption of goods produced overseas. The World Development Movement figures show that the UK is a major importer of Chinese goods, and so must bear some responsibility for emissions produced during their manufacture.

"Using the mass media to point the finger at China will not help get the global deal we need to avert climate change disaster. Not only have rich countries historically caused the problem; they are also 'importing' emissions from the developing world. The UK and other industrialised nations must provide major technology transfer and aid if a deal is to be struck that brings the larger developing countries on board. The consequences of failure are unthinkable for the world's poor - disease, drought, flooding and death on a truly catastrophic scale."

The report warns that fear of losing international competitiveness could block international co-operation and agreement, just as it has done in the World Trade Organisation. WDM is calling on rich countries to overcome their fear of being the 'first to move'. If they do not campaigners argue we face a much more frightening prospect: dangerous, irreversible and runaway climate change.

To read the full report 'Blame it on China? The international politics behind Bali' click here