Chinese scientists push for equitable carbon accounting linked to consumption habits.

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  • Chinese scientists advocate for fair carbon accounting based on consumption
  • Consumption-based accounting (CBA) can help allocate responsibility for reducing emissions justly and fairly

A new study by Chinese scientists, released on May 29 in Shanghai, has called for the use of consumption-based accounting (CBA) in calculating global carbon emissions in order to help make allocating responsibility for reducing emissions just and fair. The study, “Research Report on Consumption-based Carbon Emissions (2024)”, was jointly completed by scientists from several institutes under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) as well as from Tsinghua University.

The scientists analyzed the evolution of CBA emissions in major developed and developing countries from 1990 to 2019, and compared CBA emission changes in China and the United States, with a focus on assessing the carbon transfer effects of key trade products. The report emphasizes the importance of using CBA to clarify how the responsibility for global emissions reduction can be fairly attributed to producers and customers.

The report highlights that major developed countries had higher CBA emissions compared to production-based accounting (PBA) emissions, while major developing countries showed the opposite trend. China was identified as the world’s largest undertaker of embodied trade carbon emissions. The report suggests that combining top-down and bottom-up approaches in CBA methodology can help share responsibility for emissions more fairly and subsequently reduce them.

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