Astrid Kander

The climate benefits of Swedish exports

- a new measure for calculation of the climate impact of exports and imports

Global climate change is a challenge that the world must face together. A prerequisite for this is that individual countries can map emissions. This in turn requires accurate measurements. 

A country's total climate impact consists of that which occurs within its own borders and that which arises in the wider world, through trade and international activities. However, it is widely recognised that the production emissions of an importing country do not provide an accurate picture of the total climate impact, as they obscure the emissions that take place in other countries on its behalf to meet the demand it represents on the world market. Therefore, consumption-based emissions are increasingly used as a complementary measure. 

However, consumption-based emissions only capture half the picture of foreign trade. They focus on one scale - imports - but omit the other - exports. The consequences are that countries like Sweden, which is characterised by a significantly less carbon-intensive energy mix than the world at large and a significantly more climate-efficient export production, are disadvantaged. 

To address this, Professor Astrid Kander presents in this report a new measure called the technology-adjusted carbon footprint. It is a measure that takes consumption into account but also considers the climate impact of exports, making it more accurate. Kander says that because Sweden produces in an environmentally efficient way, the environment benefits when other countries replace their own production with Swedish-made products. So we should not slow down our economy but - on the contrary - scale up. 

Climate impact of Swedish exports 1995-2020 - Astrid Kander (pdf)