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How should carbon be accounted for (worldwide)?

  • 13-01-2022 1:37pm
    Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 19,127 Mod ✭✭✭✭

    The way carbon is measured for climate change purposes is quite unfair for some economies and favourable for others.

    For exampe, we get measured on the CO2 and methane produced by our cattle and on the diesel used by our tractors. The economies that consume the milk and beef are not measured on the carbon that produced it, nor are the countries that produced the diesel.

    Also, Ireland never had the heavy carbon industries like steel production. So if a steel producing economies cuts down on the carbon that they produce, that is a credit, but we get no allowance for never producing the carbon in the first place.

    Africa is a big loser, both in carbon, and in the consequences of global climate change.

    As always, the big economies get the best end of these deals, and the small economies and poor nations get the rough side of these deals.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,616 ✭✭✭timmyntc

    How it's counted should be cumulatively - how much is needed for production of a product in a country.

    Where a product contains multiple sub-products (possibly from other countries) then this is included also, so total carbon required to produce e.g. a tractor, will include production of the steel, steel production will include the fuel etc.

    How it's charged should be only what is added by a producer - if I built a tractor, I shouldnt be charged for production of the steel, only transport of it.

    Total transparency on emission involved in products can show where reductions can be made, and what is the most damaging, and what we as a society could/should cut back on.

    But carbon credits/taxes should only be levied on the carbon you add to the system

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 47,870 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder

    As always, the big economies get the best end of these deals, and the small economies and poor nations get the rough side of these deals.

    but if we buy say half our manufactured goods from china, it's a dodge to suggest they should be held responsible for the emissions to create our goods we consume?

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 19,127 Mod ✭✭✭✭Sam Russell

    The point I was making is that we are stuck with the carbon from the beef and dairy that we export. We are also stuck with the diesel carbon emissions that is put in the farmers tractor. We lose both ways.

    The oii producers are not levied on the fossil fuel carbon emissions because they are exported.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,121 ✭✭✭screamer

    So what you’re saying is we get penalised for what we produce AND what we consume. Others get away Scott free, I guess that balances out then. Don’t even get me started on the countries that produce things that can make carbon worse- Germany’s car industry for example.

    there’s no easy answer to this because joined up thinking is not possible in the world of self interested states. Ireland will always be the best boy of Europe so get ready for more self flagellation on that score.

  • Registered Users Posts: 18,996 ✭✭✭✭gozunda

    True. Thing is Ireland plays a role as a major dairy and beef producer for Europe as we can produce more and / or higher quality foodstuffs on a largely grass based system compared to many other EU countries. While a lot of our agricultural produce is exported to our trading partners in Europe - we then get stung by the EU for the carbon of those foodstuffs consumed in other countries.

    Now we could stop all production and other EU countries would have to produce their own or more likley import those foodstuffs from countries with few if any environmental controls. And stopping or reducing what we produce well means that our food export earnings will be significantly reduced.

    And all that when globally the largest contribution at over 70% to greenhouse gases - is the use of fossil fuels in the energy, transport and industrial sectors 😑

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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 47,870 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder

    yep, i guess my point was the same as yours; carbon is currently counted where it is created, and not against who it is created for.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,564 ✭✭✭Pete_Cavan

    So what you are suggesting is that carbon be treated like VAT with each producer claiming back the part counted in the previous link in the chain?

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,980 ✭✭✭✭Danzy

    It might have some traction in Europe, a little in America, in Africa and Asia it will tank and be fought all the way.

  • Registered Users Posts: 225 ✭✭specialbyte

    We're not the only ones screwed by the current carbon counting mechanism. China says the same thing. The system isn't fair. They are producing tons of products for western markets. They get dinged for it. The UK's emissions have fallen dramatically in the last 30 years. They've made great progress in many areas but a large amount of their emissions reductions has to do with exporting their manufacturing to countries like China.

    I'm not sure you can create a set of rules that don't disadvantage one country or another without creating a system that's too complex to actually calculate transparently. Really at the end of the day there is one global climate budget for 1.5C or 1.6C etc. The national budgets are just our way of trying to divide up the global budget because we don't have global cooperation on climate action.

    I'm unsure if climate budgets, especially if used to reduce production in one country just so that it's moved to another country, are really going to have a positive climate effect overall. We see a similar problem with carbon pricing (carbon taxes, cap and trade etc) that if the carbon price is high and transporting the end product is cheap that manufacturing moves. This is very true for steel production. Steel production produces a huge amount of carbon. The end product is really cheap to transport across the world. It's a key driving force for why steel production is moving.

    In reality either we need major global cooperation (unlikely) or we need to adopt things like carbon pricing in the EU and match it with a carbon border adjustment tax. Carbon border adjustment tax is where the EU would tax Chinese imports to EU based on how much carbon they released in the production process in China. Levelling the internal EU market and external market. That way we can exert our major market pressure to force other countries to reduce carbon as opposed to exporting our carbon intensive industries to other countries that aren't playing by the same carbon budget rules as us.

    Currently we're just playing accounting games to move carbon off our balance sheets while still emitting the same amount of carbon globally. As a result carbon emissions continue to rise globally.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,121 ✭✭✭screamer

    The truth is, we all need to consume less. There are empires built on plastic throw away crap that we simply don’t need. I think France levies taxes based on durability of the product. That’s a good idea, buy something with a bit more quality and be less of a throw away world. I always say anything that saves us humans time and money literally costs the earth.

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  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 19,127 Mod ✭✭✭✭Sam Russell

    There is a lot of greenwashing going on.

    Changing a petrol/diesel ICE car for a new EV car does next to nothing for climate change. The carbon used to build the EV would cover many years of carbon emissions from the currently owned ICE car. Now going by bike or bus, or even walk, would do a lot more for he carbon emissions.

    Something similar is going on at national and international level.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,808 ✭✭✭tom1ie

    Everything we buy should have carbon “traffic lights” attached to it.

    Something along the likes of the fat and sugar traffic lights on the packaging.

    For example if you buy a t bone steak that should include how much greenhouse gasses (I’m purposely saying greenhouse gas to include all harmful gasses) were generated in the growth of the meat, the transporting of the meat etc. Irish meat would compare favourably with imported Argentinian meat for example.

    Same applies for new cars, electricity, gas, new school books etc.

    I also think to truly reduce your carbon footprint we should be consuming less, trying to grow our own, shop locally where we are buying food, composting etc etc

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    Is it not fair to say they are calculated at the point at which the emissions are released. So for agri here, the methane emissions occur during the life cycle of the cattle so it makes no sense to count emissions once the cattle are killed.

    Same for diesel. Emissions are counted during its processing and also during its consumption. I don't see the issue.

    Of course everyone is going to say "its not fair, what about X, Y & Z", but if you want to avoid getting hit (carbon taxes or other)because of emissions, then you eliminate the emissions.