The coronavirus outbreak raised everyone’s awareness of the significance of global supply chains to modern economies.
But global supply chains also play an important role in greenhouse gas emissions. How they are managed can either increase or decrease carbon emissions, new research shows.
The coronavirus outbreak has companies from Apple to Amazon warning consumers, shareholders and governments about how factory shutdowns in China and across the globe have disrupted global supply chains. Many goods, including cars, mobile phones and medicines, have parts or components that are imported and exported several times before they are finally made into the finished product.
But beyond their vulnerability to a global health crisis, it turns out that these complex global supply chains also have a hidden climate secret.
When a piece of a product in a global supply chain moves across borders, it travels with the carbon emissions needed to make it. Not surprisingly, researchers call these emissions “carbon-in-transit.” A new publication shows that these travelling emissions account for a whopping 10 per cent of all global carbon emissions, and have tripled between 1995 and 2012.
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