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Consumption-based GHG emission accounting: a UK case study

John Barrett, Glen Peters, Thomas Wiedmann, Kate Scott, Manfred Lenzen, Katy Roelich, Corinne Le Quéré

Global GHG emissions continue to rise, with nearly a quarter of it due to trade that is not currently captured within global climate policy. In the context of current trade patterns and limited global cooperation on climate change, the feasibility of consumption-based emissions accounting to contribute to a more comprehensive (national) policy framework in the UK is investigated. Consumption-based emissions results for the UK from a range of models are presented, their technical robustness is assessed, and their potential application in national climate policy is examined using examples of policies designed to reduce carbon leakage and to address high levels of consumption. It is shown that there is a need to include consumption-based emissions as a complementary indicator to the current approach of measuring territorial emissions. Methods are shown to be robust enough to measure progress on climate change and develop and inform mitigation policy. Finally, some suggestions are made for future policy-oriented research in the area of consumption-based accounting that will facilitate its application to policy.

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