Out Sourcing Pollution

By Ben Cohen

George Monbiot points out that while China may have become the world’s leading polluter, it is only because the West has outsourced much of its production there:

The UK, for example, is comfortably meeting its commitments under the

Kyoto protocol only because much of our manufacturing industry has

moved to China. Under Kyoto rules, the pollution produced by Chinese

factories making goods for the UK belongs to China. The protocol counts

only the production, not the consumption, of greenhouse gases.

China says this is unfair. Around half the recent increase in its emissions arises from the manufacture of goods for western markets.

pollution should, it says, belong to the consumer nations, not the

producers. A successor to the Kyoto protocol which did not recognise

this would punish China for our consumption.

Western countries are of course denying responsibility, but Monbiot believes a breakthrough is possible, and cites Lord Stern, who is working closely with the U.K Government on the latest rounds of climate talks in Copenhagen. Said Stern:

My own view is that we probably need something like an average of the

two, or a combination of the two. But the logical point China makes is

that there is a definite responsibility with the consumer and not just

with the producer is a sound one.

If a compromise can be reached, a significant hurdle will have been crossed in order to lay the groundwork for meaningful change. We must lead by example on issues like climate change, without finger pointing and without blame. Time is running out, and consequences are simply too dire to spend time bickering on issues like these.

(photo by lhgszch)

Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.