Growing global economies through expanded trade between rich and poor countries is driving global warming, according to a draft report from the United Nation’s climate bureaucracy. The international agency said that rich countries are “outsourcing” carbon dioxide emissions to poor countries through increasing international trade.
The draft report, obtained by the U.K.’s Guardian, argues that these “outsourced” emissions come “in the form of electronic devices such as smartphones, cheap clothes and other goods manufactured in China and other rising economies but consumed in the U.S. and Europe.”
Much of those increased emissions came from coal plants in China and other developing economies that are used to power factories that produce goods for U.S. and European consumers, the U.N. report says.
“A growing share of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion in developing countries is released in the production of goods and services exported, notably from upper-middle-income countries to high-income countries,” the draft report reads. “A growing share of global emissions is released in the manufacture of products that are traded across international borders.”
Developing economies like China and India are responsible for manufacturing many of the goods consumed in rich countries like the U.S. These countries have cheaper labor costs and are burdened by fewer regulations on industry. Manufacturing exports has helped raise the living standards in developing economies.
“China’s emergence as a manufacturing powerhouse has been astonishing,” according to economic analysts at the consulting firm McKinsey & Company. “In seventh place, trailing Italy, as recently as 1980, China not only overtook the United States in 2011 to become the world’s largest producer of manufactured goods but also used its huge manufacturing engine to boost living standards by doubling the country’s GDP per capita over the last decade.”
While the U.N. laments the carbon dioxide emissions released by increasing global trade, economists argue that more and freer trade benefits all parties involved.