China’s coastal provinces outsource emissions to inland regions

China’s wealthy coastal cities are outsourcing their carbon dioxide emissions to less developed inland regions, researchers say.

Rich countries often import products associated with high CO2 emissions from poor countries. The study authors wanted to find out of this trend applied to regions within a country as well. So they studied trade patterns for 57 types of products across 30 regions in China.

In the rich Beijing-Tianjin, Central Coast, and South Coast regions, about one-half to three-quarters of the CO2 emissions linked to products used by residents took place outside those areas. In other words, “higher levels of household consumption in more developed coastal regions are being supported by production and associated emissions occurring in less developed neighboring regions,” the team writes in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The poorer regions tend to rely on old, inefficient technologies and are “heavily dependent on coal,” the authors note. If these provinces don’t improve their infrastructure, they could have trouble meeting their emissions reduction targets. — Roberta Kwok | 11 June 2013

Source: Feng, K. et al. 2013. Outsourcing CO2 within China. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences doi: 10.1073/pnas.1219918110.

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