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23% of global CO2 emissions were produced in one country to make goods for use in another country

Much attention has been focused on the localized production of CO2, and its contribution to global warming.  What is missing from an understanding of CO2 production is the extent to which the generation of CO2 is related to the creation of goods in one country, goods which are exported to another country.  In the classic language of economics, this is an externality that is not reflected in the pricing of the goods sold to other countries, especially if the producing country has less rigorous air pollution standards than the country to which the goods are sent.

Using data from 2004, researchers found that 23% of global CO2 emissions (6.2 gigatons) were "traded" internationally, primarily as exports from the PRC and other "emerging markets" to the more developed countries of the world.  In much of Europe, the imported CO2 amounted to nearly 4 tons of CO2 per person; in the U.S., 2.4 tons.  22.5% of the CO2 emissions in the PRC were estimated to be "exported" in the sense of being produced as part of the manufacture of goods that were exported.  A diagram of the extent of CO2 "export" is shown below.

The study can be found at