CAS publishes report on global consumption-based carbon emissions

Consumption-based carbon emissions were generally higher than production-based carbon emissions for major developed countries between 1990 and 2019, according to a report released by the Chinese Academy of Sciences on Wednesday.

By comparing the difference between consumption- and production-based carbon emissions, major developed countries transferred 1.47 billion tons of carbon emissions to other countries and regions through international trade in 2019 alone, according to the Research Report on Consumption-based Carbon Emissions (2024).

However, major developing countries bore 3.39 billion tons of embodied carbon emissions in the same year.

“International trade has had a great impact on carbon emissions of developing countries. The export of carbon-intensive products to developed countries boosted their economic growth and employment, but it also led to production-based carbon emissions generally higher than those on the consumption side,” said Wei Wei, one of the leading researchers conducting the report and vice-president of the Shanghai Advanced Research Institute, CAS.

China’s consumption-based carbon emissions were always lower than those at the production side between 1990 and 2019, according to the report, and the gap calculated by the two methods increased from 700 million tons in 1990 to 1.8 billion tons in 2019.

The embodied carbon intensity of export trade from China was reduced by 83.3 percent due to factors, including industrial upgrades and technological innovation. It means that the country has been providing more green and low-carbon products to the world, according to the report.

The research team said that production-based carbon emissions take the territory of production activities as the boundary, which fails to fully reflect the interconnection of economic activities, and ignores the embodied carbon emissions transferred by the trade of goods and services.

Instead, consumption-based carbon emissions can take the greenhouse gas emissions of different regions or industries throughout the entire process into consideration, they said.

Experts called for the use of consumption-based carbon emissions into the global carbon emissions accounting to help make allocating responsibility for reducing emissions just and fair.

CAS publishes report on global consumption-based carbon emissions
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