Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Imports and Exports

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons on 15th December 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Bill Esterson Bill Esterson Shadow Minister (International Trade)

What assessment he has made of the level of greenhouse gas emissions generated by (a) imports to and (b) exports from the UK.

Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The Government publish estimates of consumption emissions every year. The latest figures show that UK emissions on a consumption basis fell by nearly 25% between 2007 and last year.

Photo of Bill Esterson Bill Esterson Shadow Minister (International Trade)

When emissions from the production of imports, and from sea and air transport are included—minus those of exports—the UK has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 0.6% a year, not the 1.5% that the Government quote for territorial emissions alone. This country depends on imports, including the emissions that they produce. Ministers can kid themselves all they like, but is it not the case that unless the UK cuts the emissions that we are responsible for around the world, we are not going to make the contribution that we need to in order to deal with the climate emergency?

Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The hon. Gentleman is right to point out that we do have to take into account the carbon emissions that we are responsible for through trade, but he will also recognise that this is part of an international movement. There is no country in the world, in the EU as well, that is properly accounting for carbon emissions in this way. I point out to him that we were the first G20 country to mandate disclosures under the TCFD—Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures—framework across the economy, and we are leaders in terms of carbon accounting.