Western nations are contributing to China's CO2 emissions, according to a report from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
"Western countries such as Norway are outsourcing pollution to China and other countries in the developing world," said Rasmus Reinvang from WWF-Norway, co-author of the report.
This is saving European countries billions of euros on clean development mechanism (CDM) projects set up under the Kyoto Protocol, which allow rich countries to buy carbon credits from developing nations to meet CO2 emission targets.
The report, released in Beijing and Oslo yesterday, said Norway's increasing imports of electronics, machinery and other products is driving manufacturing, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in China.
It shows that CO2 emissions from products manufactured in China and exported to Norway have almost tripled from 2001 to 2006 to reach 6.8 million tons. The report claims that greenhouse gas emissions produced by the average Norwegian household are close to the Chinese average of 3.8 tons.
"The report should contribute to a more factual debate about the responsibility of different countries in a post-2012 global climate regime. Western countries bear large responsibility for CO2 emissions in China," said Li Lin, head of conservation strategies at WWF-China.
Greenhouse gas emissions in Western countries have generally flattened over the past decade as a result of the transfer of energy-intensive industries from developed to developing countries.
But global emissions are still rising, due largely to rapid emissions growth in developing economies like China and India.
"If the developing world's production for Western consumers had taken place inside the European carbon trading system, our rough estimates show that carbon credit prices would amount to 51 billion euros per year," said Reinvang.
"This indicates the minimum investment developed nations should make in technology transfer through CDM projects to ensure emission reductions in the developing world."