Friday, June 14, 2013

United States Emissions Outsourced to China's Poor

Does it really mean anything when we talk about how much companies in our country have done to reduce emissions?

On the surface, this sounds wonderful.  We pat ourselves on the backs, and we talk about reduced emissions with pride.


How are carbon emissions actually being reduced?  Are companies really being more environmentally conscious?  My argument is that no, they're not.  Not at all.

Don't get me wrong.  Some companies are reducing their emissions, I'm sure.

The majority, though...?

We outsource jobs to other countries.  Everyone knows this.  People scream about it quite a bit.  But did you ever take a moment to consider that we may be outsourcing our pollution?

Yep.  The more restrictions that are places on companies in the name of decreasing carbon emissions, the more export of those emissions takes place.

Sketch of a semi truck with a cloud painted on the side.  Words within the cloud say Cloud Transport Services.
No, not like that...
If laws forbid high emissions, what do you do?  Well, most of us cut back on them.  But what if you're a large corporation?

I'm not going to point fingers at individual companies.  There's no point to it.  Instead, I'm going to ask you to think about the number of goods you own that are made in China.  If something is made in China, all emissions are in China, rather than the United States, right?

So if an American company outsources jobs to factories in China...

That company has extremely low emissions in this country, right?  Right.

So what happens in China?  That pollution has to go somewhere, after all.  Andy Soos of the Environmental News Network says it well:
"Nobody likes carbon dioxide pollution. So if you are rich enough you send it elsewhere. Just as wealthy nations like the United States are outsourcing their carbon dioxide emissions to China, rich coastal provinces in that country are outsourcing emissions to poorer provinces in the interior, according to UC Irvine climate change researcher Steve Davis and colleagues." (source)
In the end, everyone loses.

While the wealthy may not end up with the same respiratory problems, they will end up with the same climate damage.

As will we.

Corporations may be able to skirt the laws, but they can't escape the climate.  The economic benefits fall short when looked at in long view.  United States emissions can't simply be moved to another, less advantaged country.

They need to be reduced as a whole. 

***Soos linked to a study abstract in the article cited above, if you're interested.  The full study can be found at this link: Outsourcing CO2 Within China

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