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Re-investigating the shared responsibility for trade-embodied carbon emissions

13 March 2024

Authors: Jiayu Wang, Chang-Jing Ji, Yu Liu, Yuli Shan , Klaus Hubacek , Yi-Ming Wei, Ke Wang.

Journal: Ecological Economics


The distribution of trade-embodied carbon emissions has frequently been a contestation in international climate negotiations. The proposed shared responsibility approach developed by Jakob et al. (2021) is based on economic benefits derived from generating emissions without paying for associated social costs, which are represented by the carbon price. The impacts of the real tariffs on economic benefits were not considered. Here, we improve the proposed approach by introducing the real import and export tariffs and using tariff and elasticity data specified at both country- and sector-level. We re-investigate the responsibility for trade-embodied carbon emissions sharing between 141 economies for 2017. Results show that the improved shared responsibility approach leads to a less extreme distribution of responsibility among countries. The top three emitters, China, the EU27, and the USA, were allocated 939, 761, and 702 million tons of trade-embodied carbon emissions that are 32% below, 39% above, and 50% above production-based emissions and 62% above, 17% below, and 33% below consumption-based emissions, respectively. Furthermore, we investigate the impacts of introducing tariffs and raising carbon prices on responsibility distribution and find that both will increase import-embodied responsibility and decrease export-embodied responsibility and thus favor net exporters of carbon emissions.

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Last modified:15 March 2024 11.42 a.m.

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