Working paper

On Sharing Responsibilities for Pollution Embodied in Trade

Philippe Bontems, and Marie-Françoise Calmette


In this article, we propose a new way of assessing environmental responsibility at the country level, taking into account their trade balance in terms of carbon. Starting from the fact that the approach based on the respective responsibilities of the producer and the consumer, which are widely promoted and used in the literature, each have their own limitations, we introduce a modiÖed formula for the net trade balance of carbon at the country level. To do this, we examine the extent to which trade áows for a given country increase or decrease global emissions relative to the virtual situation where imports would have been produced in the consumer country. We argue that it would be fair for countries to retain responsibility for the additional emissions they create when trading. We then discuss the incentives provided by the modiÖed liability rule to reduce emission intensity and extend our formula to include trade in intermediate goods. Finally, we illustrate our concept using World Bank and OECD data on trade áows and emission intensity ratios. Finally, we characterize six groups of countries according to the respective order of their producer, consumer and our new liability rule.

JEL codes

  • C67: Input–Output Models
  • F18: Trade and Environment
  • Q54: Climate • Natural Disasters • Global Warming

Replaced by

Marie-Françoise Calmette, and Philippe Bontems, On Sharing Responsibilities for Pollution Embodied in Trade, Revue d'Économie Politique, vol. 129, n. 6, 2019, pp. 967–992.


Philippe Bontems, and Marie-Françoise Calmette, On Sharing Responsibilities for Pollution Embodied in Trade, TSE Working Paper, n. 18-966, October 2018.

See also

Published in

TSE Working Paper, n. 18-966, October 2018