Global trade has grown massively over the last 20 years. This has resulted in a de facto export of CO2 production, especially to the developing countries. This export of CO2 has resulted in constant or even decreasing CO2 production in our part of the world, while we have experienced increasing consumption of goods.
China, which is one of the world’s largest emitters of CO2, consumes only goods that make up approx. 15% of the emitted CO2. The rest is exported, mainly to the US and Europe.
There are mainly 2 problems associated with the current system. The first problem is that local producers are becoming less competitive. The local producers have to pay CO2 taxes and taxes related to the transport of goods. External suppliers can avoid much of these expenses. The other problem is that in our part of the world we are responsible for some CO2 production that we are not accounted for. The goods that are consumed by us do not appear in our CO2 accounts.
Therefore, it would make sense that imports of goods should also require CO2 quotas. This would give a more accurate picture of our CO2 consumption.
Whether you want to buy CO2 quotas when importing goods or simply canceling CO2 quotas on import of goods is an inflamed political theme. If importers were to pay for CO2 quotas, this would be seen as a trade barrier or duty. Goods would be more expensive, but the effect on the reduction of CO2 would be significantly greater and thus give a substantial positive effect on the climate. A one-sided cancellation of allowances is also possible, but would make local production even less competitive.
Whatever is chosen, a unilateral effort gives very little meaning. Co2 emissions and the consequences for our climate are a global challenge and we must work with our trading partners, both for the sake of our companies’ competitiveness and for the sake of the climate. A change could however start in the EU.
Are our politicians ready to start such a process?