Robbie Andrew

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Climate policy and dependence on foreign carbon


A growing number of countries regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions occurring within their borders, but due to rapid growth in international trade, the products consumed in many of the same countries increasingly rely on coal, oil and gas extracted and burned in other countries where CO2 is not regulated. As a consequence, existing national and regional climate policies may be growing less effective every year. Furthermore, countries that are dependent on imported products or fossil fuels are more exposed to energy and climate policies in other countries. We show the combined international trade in carbon (as fossil fuels and also embodied in products) increased from 12.3 GtCO2 (55% of global emissions) in 1997 to 17.6 GtCO2 (60%) in 2007 (growing at 3.7%/yr). Within this, trade in fossil fuels was larger (10.8 GtCO2 in 2007) than trade in embodied carbon (6.9 GtCO2), but the latter grew faster (4.6%/yr compared with 3.1%/yr for fuels). Most major economies demonstrate increased dependence on traded carbon, either as exports or imports. Because energy is increasingly embodied in internationally traded products, both as fossil fuels and as products, energy and climate policies in other countries may weaken domestic climate policy via carbon leakage and mask energy security issues.

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Media Coverage

Shrink That Footprint 27 August 2013: The Carbon Trade
NRK 20 August 2013: Noreg klimaversting i ny studie
CICERO 20 August 2013: Norge verre enn Saudi-Arabia


In this article, Robbie Andrew and Glen Peters describe work using an MRIO table derived from the GTAP database. They discuss the historical development and briefly describe its construction. They also find that carbon footprint estimates are likely to be more influenced by differences in satellite accounts than to differences in the underlying economic data.Learn more »

A synthesis of carbon in international trade

In this comprehensive and up-to-date overview of the analysis of carbon embodied in international trade, Glen Peters and colleagues bring together treatments of some of the key issues, and introduce important new analyses. Learn more »

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The two prevalent approaches to allocating responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions – production and consumption perspectives – push responsibility to either end of the supply chain. In this study, Robbie Andrew and Vicky Forgie present the first national-level application of the shared responsibility perspective. Learn more »

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