29 September 2010, 08:49 BST
Professor Robert Watson, the government's chief environment scientist, said that if emissions "embedded" in imported goods are taken into consideration, UK emissions are actually increasing and the apparent cuts are an illusion.
"At face value UK emissions look as if they have decreased 15 or 16 percent since 1990," he said.
"But if you take in carbon embedded in our imports, our emissions have gone up about 12 percent." However, the government has spoken out in defence of its action on greenhouse gases, with a spokesperson for the Department for Energy and Climate Change highlighting international rules which state that emissions from manufacturing are counted by the country of production.
"Our position is that greenhouse gas emissions in the UK have been cut by 22% since 1990.
"While some emission reductions have resulted from the trend for manufacturing to move overseas, international rules state that emissions from manufacturing are counted by the country of production.
"Changing that would be very difficult. We don't have jurisdiction over emissions embedded in imports, they're difficult to calculate accurately and not easily verified." He added the government believed the best way of getting an accurate account of global emissions was by reaching a global climate deal, building on last year's Copenhagen accord which he said included commitments by major manufacturers such as China.
The accord, in which countries put forward their pledges for national action on emissions, was the only agreement to come out of last year's UN climate talks - which were widely regarded as a failure. According to figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the UK's carbon footprint stands at over 500 million tonnes of CO2 a year.
The Tyndall Centre estimates that approximately 25 percent of China's emissions come from goods which are then exported to developed countries. However, even if that were removed from the country's total, it would still place second in the global rankings for greenhouse gas emissions, placing just behind the USA and significantly ahead of its third place rival, India, which would also lose a significant chunk of emissions.
The next round of global talks will be held in China on 4 October, 2010. It's hoped by many that the Chinese government's offer to host the event signifies that the government will renege on its former intransigence, especially as Obama's efforts drive home his healthcare bill have sidelined the US political will that many hoped he'd bring to the subject.
Source: Green Energy UK