Simply measuring CO2 production unfair to poor countries

Published 2021/05/25

Measuring CO2 emissions solely against production unfair for developing countries.

Calculating CO2 emissions solely on the basis of production “disproportionately” penalizes developing countries which quite naturally have a higher carbon content in their economic structures, a renowned U.S. expert has said.

“What I am hoping for rather is consumption-based accounting of emissions also being brought to the fore as a means to calculate emissions reduction targets,” Sourabh Gupta, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Institute for China-America Studies, told Xinhua in an interview.

The post-modern economic structure of developed countries is “highly consumption — rather than production — based,” including consumption effects that draw produced goods from developing countries, Gupta noted.

“By focusing emissions targets solely on production, rather than on consumption, as is the case currently, the global climate change accounting system disproportionately penalizes developing countries which quite naturally have a higher carbon content in their economic structures,” he said.

Targeting consumption-based emissions and more green-friendly technological support to developing countries would be “a meaningful expression” of the principle of common and differentiated responsibilities supposed to reside at the foundation of the multilateral climate change framework, Gupta said.

Talking about the just concluded Leaders Summit on Climate, Gupta said the sight of the United States returning to the Paris Agreement and more broadly to the United Nations-centered climate change framework, and all the major economies pledging to hit their nationally determined contributions, is “a hugely welcome one.”

It shows that all the major economic powers of the world, notably the United States, China and the European Union and Japan, are “pulling in unison in the same direction,” he said.

“It sets an excellent foundation going into COP-26 in Glasgow this November (2021) both to recommit to fulfilling existing targets and thereafter elevating the level of targets — and ambition — over the next 5-year cycle,” he said.

Source: Xinhua, 2021-04-25.

For more detailed discussion on consumption (trade adjusted) versus production based measurement of CO2 emissions, see: