Climatologists: China lowers its CO2 emissions by 1.4 billion tons

Climatologists have compared the compilation of local data on emissions of carbon dioxide in the provinces of China with nationwide statistics and found that the national data understate the amount of produced CO2 by approximately 1.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, which is comparable to the annual emissions of Russia, said in an article published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

The United Nations Kyoto Protocol Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which entered into force in 2005, contains quantitative commitments of developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The protocol provides two project mechanisms to reduce emissions, as well as international trading. To participate in these mechanisms parties must submit an annual report on the rules defined by international agreement.

The group of climate scientists led by Yong Geng from the Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing tested how consistent the official statistics of China’s emissions by actually counting the local data of emissions in some provinces of China. As they note, China does not publish complete data on the annual emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Nevertheless, the PRC government has opened up access to general and regional data on the volume of consumption of fossil fuels on which we can estimate the emissions of carbon dioxide.

Geng and his colleagues analyzed data from national and local level of fuel consumption for the period between 1998 and 2010 and calculated the overall levels of CO2 emissions per year for individual fuels, and for the industry as a whole.

It was found that emissions of local and national statistics did not match any of the studied period. Each year, the gap between national and provincial statistics is increasing – from 29 million tons of CO2 in 1997 to 1.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2010. This volume, according to climatologists, comparable to the annual emissions of Russia and Japan – one of the largest producer of carbon dioxide – and is about 5% of global CO2 emissions.

As the scientists explain, much of the gap between the statistics comes from coal power. Thus, according to provincial statistics, China’s coal power produces one billion tons of carbon dioxide by more than a point to national data on consumption of fossil fuels.

Geng and his colleagues suggest that such an error could appear in national statistics due to incorrect accounting treatment of emissions associated with extraction, processing and consumption of coal. For example, according to nationwide statistics, China consumes approximately 3.1 billion tons of coal per year, while local data for this figure increases to 3.9 billion.

To eliminate these drawbacks, scientists suggest the Chinese government to make clear the method of preparation and processing. These measures will help China avoid the problems associated with the execution of international obligations in the control of climate change.