Saturday, February 2, 2008

Stuff dominates!

I used to summarise British energy consumption by saying "transport, heating, electricity".
However I just read Too Good To Be True? The UK's Climate Change Record,
(pdf) by Dieter Helm, Robin Smale and Jonathan Phillips, who estimate (based on the value of British imports from other countries, and those countries' carbon intensities) that the net carbon footprint of British imports and exports is 10 tonnes of CO2e per person! - this doubles the British carbon footprint at a stroke and implies that our energy consumption is not dominated by transport, heating, and electricity after all. Stuff is king!


Heather said...

Wow! Taking the figures in the report and crunching them differently, every US$135 of Chinese imports that I buy and 1 tonne (!!!) to my personal 'carbon footprint'. That being a 2000 number, and presumably also the figure that the importer pays, it's probably more like every US$400 I pay, but still, it's heaps! By contrast, the 2000 importer would have to pay US$2185 on a UK import to increase my footprint the same amount.

I guess that's caused partly by the energy sources used in China vs. the UK, but mostly by what the two nations produce these days.

I'd love to get my hands on figures for the other main countries we import our stuff from - probably the US, Australia and Japan at a guess.

litsl said...

I saw your talk in Cambridge this week and was disappointed we didn't have a second hour to hear part 2, which you so clearly had up your sleeve (and in your powerpoint). I appreciated your analysis and the way you communicated the message with great care and clarity. Your post about Stuff made me think of a very communicative video called The Story of Stuff.

Bez said...

Sorry to be off topic, but I am trying to find a way to contact you, and have failed severely.

I've been working on a radial version of dasher (which I call "D@sher"*) for a few weeks now. I thought you might like a look at my progress circa 2 weeks ago:

I don't know if this is anything other than an interesting bauble to you, but if you'd like to get in contact, my email is

I also run a blog, which is currently only on the subject of this little experiment, but it's not very well updated:

Also, it is an hilarious shade of pink.

*In hindsight this was a mistake. It becomes really stupid if you're not just writing about it, and having to explain the differences to people over the telephone.

Robin Smith said...

More evidence here that we are under accounting for our exported emissions.

Surprisingly it comes from doing a quick survey of carrier bag footprints as an indirect result of being found guilty of bag waste by the supermarkets recently.