China CO2 emissions growth slows sharply

BP energy review shows Chinese carbon emissions growth in 2013 was half average levels for the last decade

Source: Flickr/Derek Cheung

Source: Flickr/Derek Cheung

By Gerard Wynn

China’s carbon dioxide emissions last year grew at their slowest rate for more than a decade, after removing the effect of the financial crisis in 2008, showed energy data published by the energy company BP.

The data suggested that a crackdown on air pollution was starting to have an effect.

China’s carbon emissions grew by less than 4%, the slowest annual rise since 2008 when the impact of the financial crisis peaked, showed the data published on Monday.

Annual average rises in carbon emission were 8.8%, since 2002, when China’s economic boom took off.

The slowdown appeared to be the result both of a changing energy mix, including relatively less coal consumption, and slowing overall energy consumption.

Coal consumption growth slowed to 3.7% compared with a decadal average of 9%. Overall energy consumption growth fell to 4.4%, compared with 7.3% in 2012.

Meanwhile, US carbon emissions rebounded on the back of rising gas prices and a shift back to coal, the data showed.

The BP data is a widely used as a robust source for global energy consumption and carbon emissions.

Energy revolution

China is under pressure to curb coal consumption as it tries to limit public unrest over deadly levels of air pollution in major cities such as Beijing.

Energy reforms will include the continuing closure of inefficient coal plants, and a shift towards gas, nuclear, renewables and efficiency.

Illustrating the reform push, China’s President Xi Jinping last Friday “called for more efforts to revolutionize the country’s energy production and consumption”, according to the state news agency Xinhua.

“While presiding over a meeting of the Central Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs, Xi, head of the group, acknowledged that China faces challenges to cope with rising energy demand, supply restraints, huge environment costs and backward technology,” said the news agency.

“To ensure national energy security, China needs to take steps to rein in irrational energy use and control the country’s energy consumption by fully implementing energy-saving policies, said Xi.

“Energy supply reform will take place to establish a diversified system that contains cleaner use of coal and non-coal fuel including oil, gas, nuclear power and new energy.”

RTCC exclusively reported last month that China’s powerful planning ministry, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), expected to launch a national carbon market in 2018.

And Reuters reported that state advisers expected a national cap on carbon emissions in the coming years.

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