Thursday, August 20, 2015

Study:  China May Have Overestimated Carbon Emissions

China may have emitted fewer emissions between 2000 and 2012 than previously estimated, a Harvard led-study says. (Credit: Mingjia Zhou/flickr) Click to Enlarge.
Carbon dioxide emissions in China may have been overestimated since 2000 because of conflicting estimates of the greenhouse gas emissions it produces and the carbon content of the coal it burns, a Harvard-led study published Wednesday shows.

Overestimated emissions may be critical for China ahead of the upcoming Paris climate negotiations in December.  China struck a pact with the United States in 2014, pledging to peak its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and increase its use of clean energy to around 20 percent of its total energy production by 2030.

China is the world leader in burning coal — the primary driver of climate change — totaling more than four times the coal burned for electricity in the U.S.

But the Harvard study, published in the journal Nature, says the amount of carbon dioxide produced from burning fossil fuels in China and producing cement there may have been 14 percent lower than official 2013 estimates included in the Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research — The European Union’s database of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The study pins the reason for the overestimation on conflicting estimates for the level of emissions that come from China’s specific mix of fossil fuel power sources.
In previous estimates of China’s emissions, scientists assumed that China’s coal quality is about the same as it is everywhere else across the globe.  When the study’s researchers directly examined China’s coal, they found that the coal quality there is much lower than the global average, meaning that it contains more ash and less carbon than most of the world’s coal, Zhu said.

“Thus, the carbon emission released is much lower than previous studies,” he said.

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