9 February 2016
China has proven to be illegally dumping products from steel to bicycles in the EU, causing production to shut down here and artificially switch to China. When goods are manufactured in China and consumed in Europe, the environment suffers for two main reasons:
1. Firstly, Chinese manufacturing (which is 80% based on coal) is much more detrimental to the environment than EU production (28% based on coal). For example, Europe’s steel industry is amongst the cleanest and most advanced in the world. Thanks to sustained investment in innovation the steel industry has significantly reduced its environmental impact. Energy usage and CO2 emissions have halved in the past few decades. Hence, the replacement of European domestic steel production with imports of Chinese steel results in around 43% more CO2 emissions. In 2015, China exported around 7 million tonnes of steel to the EU, which if instead was made in Europe would have reduced CO2 emissions by an amount equivalent to 2.1 million mid-sized cars. China continues to face far lower environmental burdens which, combined with dumping, is decimating EU production. Such unfair trade practices will mean Europe will simply have exported its CO2, as well as hundreds of thousands of jobs.
2. Secondly, the environmental cost of shipping products 20,000 - 30,000 km from China to Europe is enormous. What makes things worse is the fact that the majority of container ships go back to China empty. A new breed of intercontinental container ship has been developed for Chinese shipping which is extremely cost-efficient. However, it uses diesel engines as powerful as land-based power stations but with the lowest quality fuel. By 2020 shipping will be the biggest single emitter of air pollution in Europe, even surpassing the emissions from all land-based sources together. A recent study by the Danish government's environmental agency found that one giant container ship can emit almost the same amount of cancer and asthma-causing chemicals as 50 million cars. Moreover, oil spills from shipping have devastating effects. While being toxic to marine life, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), the components in crude oil, are very difficult to clean up, and last for years in the sediment and marine environment.
If the EU surrenders MES to China, European markets would be flooded with unfairly cheap goods and the environment would suffer.