The Carbon Trade

This three part series looks at the growth of traded carbon.  It isn’t about ‘carbon trading’ but instead how carbon moves around the world in the form of fuels and embodied in products, and what implications this has for climate policy.

We looks at three main ideas : the growth of carbon in trade, who the big traders are and the ‘carbon gaps’ between extraction, production and consumption emissions.

1: The Globalization of Carbon

Traded carbon has grown sharply in recent years, makes up an increasing share of total emissions and is being driven by a sharp growth in emissions embodied in traded products.

2: The Big 5 of the Carbon Trade

Carbon in trade is increasingly quickly. By looking at who the major exporters and importers are of carbon in fuel and products are we can understand this trade. 

3: Mind The Carbon Gap

We can account for carbon emissions in three different ways.  Where fuels are extracted, emissions produced and products consumed.  The gaps between are a climate policy challenge. 

All the data used in this series is based on the recent, and freely downloadable, paper ‘Climate policy and dependence on traded carbon‘ by Robbie Andrew, Steven Davis and Glen Peters. Many thanks to Robbie in particular for providing so much data.

Lindsay Wilson
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I founded Shrink That Footprint in November 2012, after a long period of research. For many years I have calculated, studied and worked with carbon footprints, and Shrink That Footprint is that interest come to life.

I have an Economics degree from UCL, have previously worked as an energy efficiency analyst at BNEF and continue to work as a strategy consultant at Maneas.  I have consulted to numerous clients in energy and finance, as well as the World Economic Forum.

When I’m not crunching carbon footprints you’ll often find me helping my two year old son tend to the tomatoes, salad and peppers growing in our upcycled greenhouse.