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The Measurement of CO2 Embodiments in International Trade: Evidence from the Harmonised Input-Output and Bilateral Trade Database

Listed author(s):
  • Satoshi Nakano

    (Keio University)

  • Asako Okamura

    (Japan Science and Technology Agency)

  • Norihisa Sakurai

    (Central Research Institute of the Electric Power Industry)

  • Masayuki Suzuki

    (Dai-ichi Research Institute Inc.)

  • Yoshiaki Tojo


  • Norihiko Yamano


Efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions which are linked to the global climate system such as the Kyoto Protocol might fail, if emission-restricted states relocate their carbon-intensive production activities to non-restricted countries where the primary production factors depend on more GHG-intensive sources. Such a relocation process and increased ‘carbon trade’ appear to be contrary to the GHG reductions envisioned in international agreements. This study addresses the issue of carbon embodiments in trade using internationally-comparable OECD data sources (Input-Output, Bilateral Goods Trade and CO2 emissions) for 41 countries/regions by 17 industries. Simulation results under base case scenarios for the mid-1990s and the early 2000s suggest that “trade deficits” of CO2 emissions are observed in 21 OECD countries in the early 2000s and that for 16 countries, the magnitude of the trade deficit increased in the late 1990s. While a third (860 Mt CO2) of the global increase in production-based emissions took place within the non-OECD economies in the late 1990s, more than half of the consumption-based emission (1550 Mt CO2) is still attributable to OECD consumption. The sensitivity simulations imply that an increase in global trade intensity has an increasing impact on embodied emissions while technology transfers from carbon-intensive countries to high carbon-intensive countries reduce global emissions and carbon trade gaps. Les efforts visant à réduire les émissions de gaz à effet de serre (GES) liées au système climatique mondial, notamment dans le cadre du Protocole de Kyoto, risquent d’échouer si les États où s’appliquent des limitations des émissions délocalisent leurs activités de production à forte intensité de carbone vers des pays où ces restrictions ne sont pas imposées et où les facteurs de production primaire sont tributaires de sources qui émettent plus de GES. Ce processus de délocalisation et l’augmentation des ‘échanges de carbone’ vont à l’encontre des réductions des GES envisagées dans les accords internationaux. Cette étude aborde la question des quantités de carbone incorporées dans les échanges en utilisant des sources de données de l’OCDE comparables au plan international (entrées-sorties, commerce bilatéral et émissions de CO2) concernant 41 pays/régions et 17 branches d’activité. Dans les résultats des simulations effectuées avec des scénarios de référence couvrant le milieu des années 1990 et le début des années 2000, on observe des “déficits des échanges” d’émissions de CO2 dans 21 pays de l’OCDE au début des années 2000 et, s’agissant de 16 pays, un accroissement du solde négatif de ces échanges à la fin des années 1990. Si un tiers (860 Mt de CO2) de l’augmentation mondiale des émissions dues à la production a été produit dans des économies non membres de l’OCDE à la fin des années 1990, plus de la moitié des émissions associées à la consommation (1550 Mt de CO2) sont encore imputables à la consommation de la zone OCDE. Les simulations des sensibilités laissent supposer qu’un accroissement de l’intensité des échanges mondiaux a un effet à la hausse sur les émissions incorporées, tandis que les transferts de technologie des pays moins émetteurs de carbone vers les pays gros émetteurs réduisent les émissions mondiales et les soldes négatifs des échanges de carbone.

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Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers with number 2009/3.

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Date of creation: 06 Feb 2009
Handle: RePEc:oec:stiaaa:2009/3-en
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