Rich countries merely “outsource” their CO2 emissions to poorer ones, which does not do the planet a whit of good

Rich countries merely “outsource” their CO2 emissions to poorer ones, which does not do the planet a whit of good, by Brad Plumer.

For years now, carbon dioxide emissions in the United States and Europe have been steadily falling … But on the flip side, emissions in developing countries like China and India have been growing at a very rapid clip.

So one natural question to ask is just how closely these two things are related. That is, are rich countries just “outsourcing” their climate pollution to poorer countries, by shifting their factories overseas?

The answer is basically yes. But as you might guess, there are all sorts of interesting twists and nuances that make this more complicated than it seems. …

Non-OECD countries have had rapid emissions growth, a part of which is to make products that are exported to OECD counties. …

Factories making computers, electronics, apparel, and furniture would close in the US, open up in China, and then ship their products back home to the US. Americans got the goods; China got [credited with the carbon emissions] (and the jobs).

Australia did the same. For instance, Australia increased energy prices well above the cost of production (electricity from coal costs 3 to 4 cents per kWh, but consumers are charged over 20 cents per kWh). This forced the aluminum smelters in Australia out of business, and they reopened in China and the Philippines. The same amount of carbon is emitted — but the smelters are no longer in Australia, Australia is not credited with the accompanying carbon emissions, and a great deal of time, effort, and carbon emissions were expended in moving the smelters. Our ruling elite are such clever folks.