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Measuring progress towards carbon reduction in the UK

  • Druckman, A.
  • Bradley, P.
  • Papathanasopoulou, E.
  • Jackson, T.

The UK Climate Change Bill proposes to establish legally binding targets for a 60% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. This paper discusses the challenges posed by measuring progress towards this target. It takes as a premise that the conventional production-based accounting framework, enshrined in the UNFCCC emissions accounting guidelines, is inappropriate for this task because it fails to account for the carbon 'traded' across the UK national boundary. Accordingly, it sets out a consumption-based accounting framework - using a two-region Environmental Input-Output (EIO) model - which could in principle measure progress in reducing the emissions attributable to final consumers in the UK. It illustrates the use of this framework to measure the reduction in carbon dioxide achieved by the UK between 1990 (the Kyoto base year) and the year 2004 and compares this against the production perspective. The results indicate that any progress towards the UK's carbon reduction targets (visible under a production perspective) disappears completely when viewed from a consumption perspective. But the robustness of this conclusion depends critically on the accuracy of underlying economic and environmental datasets as well as specific assumptions concerning imports. By analysing the consistency of UK Input-Output data, we conclude that EIO is still some way from being able to answer the critical question of the carbon trade balance for the UK. In these circumstances, measuring real progress towards carbon reduction in the UK remains elusive.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

Volume (Year): 66 (2008)
Issue (Month): 4 (July)
Pages: 594-604

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:66:y:2008:i:4:p:594-604
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon

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  1. Wiedmann, Thomas & Lenzen, Manfred & Turner, Karen & Barrett, John, 2007. "Examining the global environmental impact of regional consumption activities -- Part 2: Review of input-output models for the assessment of environmental impacts embodied in trade," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 15-26, February.
  2. Machado, Giovani & Schaeffer, Roberto & Worrell, Ernst, 2001. "Energy and carbon embodied in the international trade of Brazil: an input-output approach," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 409-424, December.
  3. Wiedmann, Thomas & Minx, Jan & Barrett, John & Wackernagel, Mathis, 2006. "Allocating ecological footprints to final consumption categories with input-output analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 28-48, January.
  4. Munksgaard, Jesper & Pedersen, Klaus Alsted, 2001. "CO2 accounts for open economies: producer or consumer responsibility?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 327-334, March.
  5. Nadim Ahmad & Andrew Wyckoff, 2003. "Carbon Dioxide Emissions Embodied in International Trade of Goods," OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers 2003/15, OECD Publishing.
  6. Randall Jackson & Alan Murray, 2004. "Alternative Input-Output Matrix Updating Formulations," Economic Systems Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(2), pages 135-148.
  7. Bastianoni, Simone & Pulselli, Federico Maria & Tiezzi, Enzo, 2004. "The problem of assigning responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 253-257, July.
  8. Angela Druckman & T. Jackson & E. Papathanasopoulou & P. Bradley, . "Attributing Carbon Emissions to Functional Household Needs: a Pilot Framework For the UK," Regional and Urban Modeling 283600026, EcoMod.
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