Greenhouse gas emissions from trading: the forgotten figures

A new study warns that the impact of trading in goods and services on climate change can be forgotten in calculations of greenhouse gas contributions to global warming.


The report, Environmental Impact of Swedish Trade, shows that Sweden’s imports of goods and services in 1998 resulted in 40 million tonnes of carbon dioxide released in other countries. Sweden’s own exports contributed to 27 million additional tonnes of CO2 emitted in the same year.

Around a third of all CO2 emissions related to Swedish consumption were generated abroad, with 60% of sulphur dioxide emissions also being generated overseas. These calculations do not appear in the country’s official statistics, which are solely based on emissions within Sweden’s borders, says the report by the Swedish Statistics Bureau (SCB).

Energy trading is also omitted from climate calculations, where for example, Swedish imports of electricity in 1995 were responsible for five million tonnes of CO2 overseas. Variations in temperature and demand mean that the impact of electricity trading will vary from year to year, and should be taken into account.

Meanwhile, Sweden’s energy authorities are investing in a two-year research and development programme to improve the energy efficiency of a range of industries. The 150 million Swedish krona invested will go to projects on water turbine technology, biomass development, improving energy use in the steel and paper industries and refining paper and mass production processes.

The country is also launching a Climate Campaign to raise public awareness and change attitudes on global warming. The campaign, which runs to 2004, will highlight local initiatives and opportunities for Sweden to contribute to climate change abatement, through TV and poster advertisements.

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