Tuesday, April 28, 2015

China Reduces Coal Use and CO2 Emissions, Boosting Global Climate Talks

Energy adjustments by world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter propels international negotiations

China invested over $90 billion in renewable energy such as wind and solar in 2014, diversifying its energy portfolio. (Credit: Shen ZC/Featurechina/Newscom) Click to Enlarge.
China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, is claiming it significantly slowed both carbon dioxide releases and coal consumption in 2014.  If confirmed and sustained, that trend could galvanize other countries’ climate change mitigation efforts as they prepare for upcoming treaty talks in Paris.

China’s CO2 emissions remained roughly flat between 2013 and 2014, according to Chinese government statistics and other sources, says Glen Peters with the Global Carbon Project, an international environmental research consortium that tracks CO2 emissions.  The findings have surprised experts who watched China’s CO2 emissions nearly double over the past decade.

The Chinese government recently announced that 2014 saw a 2.9% reduction in coal consumption in absolute terms.  The news follows years of double-digit annual growth.  The 2002–12 period saw a 142% increase in coal burned in China, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.  Moreover, China’s largest coal producer, Shenhua Energy Co., projects a 10% drop in domestic coal sales from 2014 to 2015.  These shifts could result in a substantial reduction in CO2 emissions given that China alone consumed a whopping 3.8 billion tons of coal compared with 4.3 billion in the rest of the world as recently as 2011, according to DOE.

Although it remains to be seen whether they can be sustained, these early indications of an absolute slowdown in China’s greenhouse gas emissions—combined with the country’s unparalleled investment of $90 billion in renewable energy last year—are encouraging to climate activists preparing for international climate talks set to conclude this December in Paris.

Read more at China Reduces Coal Use and CO2 Emissions, Boosting Global Climate Talks

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