photo by stooart (Flickr CC)

The UK’s chief environmental scientist has stated that Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions have actually increased in the last 20 years due to ‘hidden’ emissions in imported goods.

Since last year, China has been labeled the number one emitter of greenhouse gases, though it is the West that fuels much of China’s emissions by importing so much from the rapidly developing Asian super power.

From a report in the Guardian:

Speaking in a documentary to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 next week, Professor Bob Watson said there was a need to be more open about the rises in emissions generated by-products made in places such as China but destined for the UK market.

Rather than an apparent reduction of 15-16% over the past two decades – or 22% according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change – Professor Watson claims that emissions have actually gone up by 12% when factoring in imports.

Importing so many goods not only means the exporting of manufacturing jobs, but also an effective export of greenhouse gases and an increase in emissions from shipping.

In related news, UK biofuels are not as green as hoped in terms of voluntary standards, though they are meeting legal quotas of how much biofuel is sold in relation to total transport fuel sales.

Figures released by the RFA show that just 33% of biofuels met an environmental standard, well short of the 50% goal for 2009/10. About 80% of the feedstock to produce the biofuels was imported, most of which was not subject to meeting an environmental standard.

As far as direct carbon emissions, biofuels in the UK are exceeding their goals by cutting carbon by 51% compared to petrol or diesel. Yet this statistic does not factor in land use, habitat destruction or deforestation, which may be indirectly caused by farming crops to produce biofuels.

Read more in the following report from the BBC:

UK biofuels ‘falling short’ on environmental standards