UK blamed for 15% of carbon output

21 February 2007

by Bill Bowder

BRITAIN could be responsible for up to 15 per cent of the total production of greenhouse gasses in the world, says a new Christian Aid report. By “outsourcing” its production of carbon dioxide and its equivalents to developing countries, the UK is condemning millions of poor people to flooding, famine, and disease, while pocketing profits from companies that produce global warming, it warns.

The report, Coming Clean: Revealing the UK’s true carbon footprint, says that the Prime Minister’s claim that the UK produces “only” two per cent of global greenhouse gases ignores the huge investments by Britain in companies trading overseas. It describes Britain as “scapegoating” other countries for global warming, while paying for their coal-fired power stations or financing the air-freighting of their goods to the UK.

Companies do not keep the Government’s voluntary code for auditing emissions, which makes it hard to know is responsible for what. Companies that do keep records of carbon emissions record only those generated by their offices in the UK. They ignore emissions from power production, as well as from their global supply chain and the consumption of their products, says Christian Aid. It estimates that, if those emissions were taken into account, FTSE 100 companies traded on the London Stock Exchange are responsible for the equivalent of 3.8 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide — more than 15 per cent of the total global emissions.

The Companies Act 2006 stipulates that social and environmental matters should be included when considering a company’s true value. An environmental lawyer, Nick Flynn, told Christian Aid: “Such matters are relevant alongside issues of pure profit.”

As carbon emissions become a significant issue, investors need to make informed choices, in case their investment becomes “stranded” by action against climate change, the report says.

Coming Clean: Revealing the UK’s true carbon footprint is at

Calls for global action
On Tuesday, the Revd Dr Samuel Kobia, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, endorsed “The Path to Climate Sustainability”, a demand to governments to back scientifically based carbon targets, issued by the Global Roundtable on Climate Change. The Roundtable is an initiative from Columbia University which brings together governments and NGOs.

  Earlier this month, David Pickering, head of Operation Noah, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland’s climate-change campaign, said that Britain should localise its economy, cut consumption, and air and car travel, and use more renewable sources of energy.

Forthcoming Events

26 March 2020
Theology Slam Live Final
Hear three of the UK’s best up-and-coming young theologians as they reflect on the most pressing issues of our time.  Book tickets

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)