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China's carbon emissions and international trade: Implications for the post 2012 regime

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 23:27 authored by Tao Wang, Jim Watson
Growing international trade has been one of the most important drivers for China's recent economic growth. This growth has fed rapid increases in energy demand and carbon emissions since 2000. China is now the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide. There is mounting pressure from some in the international community for China to take specific actions to mitigate its emissions as part of a post-2012 climate regime. However, emissions embodied in internationally traded goods have not been given enough attention in this debate. This article discusses the results of research to quantify the emissions stemming from goods that are exported from China to other countries. It finds that these emissions accounted for 23% of China's national total in 2004. The article sets out how this result has been obtained and compares it to the results of several other pieces of research to demonstrate the importance of this issue. Some pointers for international climate policy are then discussed, including the advantages and difficulties of moving to consumption-based emissions accounting, and implications for international trade rules.


Publication status

  • Published


Climate Policy





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  • SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit Publications

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