Carbon pollution declines for second year on falling coal consumption, statistics agency indicates
By Alex Pashley
China’s CO2 emissions and coal consumption fell for a second year in 2015, new data by the National Bureau of Statistics indicated on Monday.
The world’s number one polluter emitted 1-2% less CO2 in the period as the cooling Asian economy used 2-4% less coal, according to a Greenpeace analysis of the data. It brings it closer to meeting targets to arrest growth in emissions by 2030.
China also confirmed it broke two clean energy world records in 2015 –installing 32.5 gigawatts (GW) of wind and 18.3 GW of solar power.
“The latest figures confirm China’s record-breaking shift towards renewable power and away from coal,” said Tim Buckley at the US-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).
China is ramping up renewable energy to limit smog-causing pollution from coal-fired power plants and meet climate change commitments.
Declines in coal usage over the last two years equal Japan’s annual consumption. Chinese imports of the polluting fuel fell 30% in 2015 on a year earlier.
China expects to lay off 1.8 million workers in its coal and steel industries, Reuters reported, on reduced demand.
But a “steadily worsening overcapacity problem” in coal power and heavy industry could complicate a shift to cleaner energy sources, warned Greenpeace in a statement.
Yet installations of renewable power will likely continue into 2016.
IEEFA projects China will add a smaller 22GW of wind, 18GW of solar and smaller shares of hydro and nuclear in 2016, which will meet rising electricity demand despite declines in coal usage.