Trailing Carbon Footprints Across Borders 減碳大進展？ 碳足跡 外包到海外
Over the past decade, both the United States and Europe have made major strides in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions at home. That trend is often held up as a sign of progress in the fight against climate change.
But those efforts look a lot less impressive once you take trade into account. Many wealthy countries have effectively “outsourced” a big chunk of their carbon pollution overseas, by importing more steel, cement and other goods from factories in China and other places, rather than producing it domestically.
Britain, for instance, slashed emissions within its own borders by one-third between 1990 and 2015. But it has done so as energy-intensive industries have migrated abroad. If you included all the global emissions produced in the course of making things like the imported steel used in London’s skyscrapers and cars, then Britain’s total carbon footprint has actually increased slightly over that time.
“It’s a huge problem,” said Ali Hasanbeigi, a research scientist and chief executive of Global Efficiency Intelligence, an energy and environmental consulting firm. “If a country is meeting its climate goals by outsourcing emissions elsewhere, then we’re not making as much progress as we thought.”
Hasanbeigi is an author of a new report on the global carbon trade, which estimates that 25 percent of the world’s total emissions are being outsourced in this manner. The report, written with the consulting firm KGM & Associates and ClimateWorks, calls this a “carbon loophole,” since countries rarely scrutinize the carbon footprint of the goods they import.
That may be changing. Last fall, California’s lawmakers took an early stab at confronting the issue by setting new low-carbon standards on the steel the state buys for its infrastructure projects. But dealing with imported emissions remains a thorny problem.
Some environmentalists see it as the next frontier of climate policy.
The new report, which analyzes global trade from 15,000 different sectors — from toys and office equipment to glass and aluminum — builds on previous academic research to provide one of the most detailed pictures yet of the global carbon trade.
Not surprisingly, China, which has become the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, remains the world’s factory. About 13 percent of China’s emissions in 2015 came from making stuff for other countries. In India, another fast-growing emitter, the figure is 20 percent.
Other highlights included bone tossing, hunting with eagles and 17 types of wrestling, including bare-chested horseback wrestling, where the weaker competitor often clings desperately to the animal’s head as spectators roar in anticipation of him hitting the dirt.
While many top-flight athletes competed, qualifying for an event was easy: Basically anybody who signed up online could play. The bulk of the Czech Republic delegation, for example, was a group of male friends who fished around for an easy sport.
They discovered ordo, or bone tossing, which involves eight players using a chunk of cow bone to dislodge 2-inch pieces of sheep bone from a large dirt circle. (It’s a lot harder than it sounds.) They could not, however, find the right bone bits in the Czech Republic with which to practice.
So how did they learn to play? They just thought about it, mostly, admitted the Czechs, who went home without any medals.
The outdoor events took place in two stunning venues — a hippodrome built for the Games on a high-altitude saline lake surrounded by the jagged peaks of the Tian Shan mountain range, and the vast meadows of a sweeping mountain gorge, where some 1,000 yurts were erected.
The emphasis on nomadic traditions casts Kyrgyzstan as part of a grander Turkic civilization, and perhaps equally important, helps counter the growing strength here of the intolerant Wahhabi strain of Islam imported by clerics educated in Saudi Arabia.