The Truth Behind Decarbonizing

Brad Plumer examines the global need to abate climate change amidst a new report showing carbon emission reductions being claimed by countries around the world can be deceiving.

A new report from the Breakthrough Institute details the ways developed nations have reduced carbon emissions between 1971 and 2006. The results demonstrate the differences in emission reductions from countries who are switching to cleaner energy sources in earnest, and those who have simply outsourced their most emission producing sectors elsewhere.

Rather than shifting to cleaner energy sources, countries such as Ireland, Britain and the United States have in reality been outsourcing their carbon pollution, by shifting their farming and manufacturing sectors abroad and increasing imports. "In the United States, manufacturing's share of the economy has fallen 45 percent since 1971 and imports' share has increased 200 percent." According to the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science in 2011, 'these "outsourced emissions" essentially cancel out any progress made under the Kyoto Protocol."

Countries like France and Sweden have become greener in more sustainable, and beneficial, ways. "France, for instance, achieved much of its decarbonization since 1971 by making a big push on nuclear power. Likewise, Sweden has been using less oil over the past four decades, while relying more on nuclear and geothermal and biofuels," states Plumer.

Full Story: Very few countries have cut their carbon emissions without cheating


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