The New Economics Foundation (NEF) criticised the UK’s rising dependence on imports for basic needs such as food and energy, which it said has placed heavy burdens on the resources of foreign nations.

A report entitled Chinadependence, published by NEF and the Open University, said a large share of China’s rising greenhouse gas emissions was caused by the manufacture of goods for western markets.

Andrew Simms, lead author of the report and NEF policy director, said: “Because of the way that data on carbon emissions gets collected at the international level, this has the effect of carbon laundering economies like those of Britain.”

He added: “This report shows the urgent need to develop a sensible and positive pattern of interdependence between the UK, the rest of the world and the earth’s life-support systems.”

The authors of the report called for a shift in Government policy away from economic competitiveness towards co-operation and said ministers must draw up policies to increase the UK’s self-sufficiency.

The report revealed that in the last five years, the UK’s spending on imports from China has risen by more than 125% and the weight of imports has grown by 114%.

Christmas decorations alone accounted for 60,000 tonnes of imports in 2006.

NEF’s report also highlighted examples of UK trade with the rest of the world which it said were “ecologically wasteful”.

This includes importing 14,000 tonnes of chocolate-covered waffles in 2006, while exporting 15,000 tonnes.

It also said the UK’s ability to produce its own food is at its lowest level for 50 years, and energy dependence has increased almost fourfold since 2004.

Kate Martin

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