China’s CO2 emissions reduction plans now look more realistic

While China has been the leading global emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2) for a decade now, a new study published in August by the scientific journal Nature suggests that the latest estimates of their total emissions in 2013 may have been over-estimated by 14 percent.

The biggest culprit in the miscalculation can be attributed to China’s use of coal, which has emitted 40 percent less CO2 than previously estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change due to the implementation of coal “scrubbing” technology prior to burning.

Despite the downward revision of CO2 output, China still accounts for 29 percent of global emissions which is twice that of the U.S. — the world’s second largest emitter.

In June, China pledged to stop its CO2 growth by 2030, and to make 20 percent of its usable energy from renewable sources.

In a report published Tuesday by The Guardian, Qi Ei, director of the Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy in Beijing, said Chinese officials are planning to cut CO2 emissions before its negotiated 2030 deadline.

“China hopes to peak as early as possible because it understands its in the national interest and to the benefit of the people in terms of health considerations,” said Qi. “A 2030 peak is very ambitious . . . I think most people underestimate how challenging that is.”

On Sept. 24, the White House announced that China will be initiating a cap-and-trade program starting in 2017, over-taking the European Union as the largest global carbon market.

In order to reach their pollution-cutting goals, China is set to invest $1.8 trillion in renewable energy research and development.

In the past we thought it was a cost to address climate change,” Qi concluded. “Then we realized not addressing it will cost us more. By developing clean energy technologies, we bring more economic opportunities.

In November 2014, the South China Morning Post reported that a domestic study showed smog contributed to the premature deaths of 670,000 Chinese in 2012.

 

[Business Insider] [The Guardian]