China does the dirty thing and outsources carbon emissions to poorer areas

Smoke rising from factory chimneys

China is outsourcing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions within its own borders, a study has found.

This is much like the way in which rich countries in the West have long turned to China to produce cheap goods, thereby outsourcing dirty emissions.

Poorer areas such as Inner Mongolia produced 80% of CO2-related emissions for goods used in richer coastal areas such as Beijing and Shanghai.

The scientists, writing in PNAS, are concerned this trend will spread.

That is, if China continues to adopt Western consumer habits, they could look to further outsource their carbon emissions to developing countries.

The researchers examined CO2 emissions flowing between different regions of China and abroad.

'Dirty pollution'

The main driver for outsourcing emissions, in the West and elsewhere, has always been labour costs, said Klaus Hubacek from the University of Maryland, US, who co-authored the paper.

"China is treating its own hinterland just the way the whole world treats China, which is outsourcing its dirty pollution to the poorer regions. Money chases the cheapest ways of producing goods around the world.

"These regions have lower efficiency and less valuable technology, so they create more pollution per unit of output than the richer regions."

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