“It is quite a lot more than previously reported – it is basically equivalent to the whole national consumption of Germany, and Germany is a large coal-consumption country in Europe”.
The revelation – which may mean China has emitted close to a billion additional tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year – could complicate the fight against global warming ahead of the United Nations climate change conference in Paris, which begins on November 30.
“Coal is a very common thing in China”. They ultimately secured the closure or planned closure of one-third of US coal plants, and take a few credit for the emissions reductions.
“Electricity is increasing its share in total energy consumption and coal is increasing its share in power generation”, said Laszlo Varro, head of the gas, coal and power markets division for the global Energy Agency (IEA).
While much attention has been given to a potential peak in China’s coal demand and worries about emissions, in Asia alone this year power companies are building more than 500 coal-fired plants, with at least a thousand more on planning boards.
While China has pledged to stall growth in its carbon emissions by 2030, this new development poses serious challenges to that goal and broader efforts to address climate change.
“Obviously it is not good news that China’s coal consumption was much higher than previously thought, but it is heartening that China corrected the data and reported it transparently”, wrote Kelly Sims Gallagher, who directs the Center for worldwide Environment and Resource Policy at Tufts University’s Fletcher School, in an email. Part of the reason is that they realize that their emissions portfolio is undergoing a fundamental change and that is working in their favour.
“The news that China’s government is already backing away from its commitment, before the Paris talks even begin, should come as no surprise”, he said.
The data has depended on incomplete provincial statistics, he said.
“We’re absolutely sure India’s coal demand will continue to grow”, Varro said.
When estimating emissions, scientists prefer to account for coal use by the amount of energy in it rather than by its raw mass, which includes impurities that end up as ash.
The new data show that Carbon dioxide emissions related to the energy sector, which is the source of almost two thirds of human generated greenhouse gases, rose 2.2% in 2013 to total 32.2 Gt, compared with the 0.6% increase in 2012. But Yang said that conclusion had been disputed.