Energy and Climate Change CommitteeMemorandum submitted by Professor C.N. Hewitt

PROFESSOR C.N. HEWITT, LANCASTER ENVIRONMENT CENTRE, LANCASTER UNIVERSITY

Evidence submitted in a personal capacity and not on behalf of Lancaster University

Executive Summary

1. The greenhouse gases embodied in goods and services imported to the UK from abroad are very considerable and quantifiable. Hence the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, when measured on a consumption basis, are significantly greater than when measured on a production basis.

2. The omission from UK greenhouse gas emissions reporting of greenhouse gases embodied in goods and services imported to the UK from abroad distorts current assessments of the UK’s “carbon footprint”.

3. It is practicable to adopt consumption-based emissions reporting for greenhouse gases using currently-available techniques and data.

4. The rapid development of an international space-borne Earth observation capability for the verification of greenhouse gas emissions at the national scale is essential.

How do assessments of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions differ when measured on a consumption rather than a production basis?

4. There is a large body of published evidence, including my own (The effect of trade between China and the UK on national and global carbon dioxide emissions, Y. Li and C.N. Hewitt, Energy Policy, 36, 1907 – 1914, 2008) that indicates that current production-based greenhouse gas emissions estimates for the UK are significantly lower than consumption-based estimates that take account of emissions embodied in net imported goods and services.

Is it possible to develop a robust methodology for measuring emissions on a consumption rather than production basis and what are the challenges that need to be overcome to deliver this?

5. Techniques of environmental input-output analysis and the requisite data are available to allow robust estimation of consumption-based emissions. Enhancements to the transparency of, and ease of access to, international trade data would be beneficial.

6. The rapid development of a space-borne Earth observation capability for the verification of greenhouse gas emissions at the national scale is essential.

October 2011

Prepared 17th April 2012