(Updated with comments from Xie Zhenhua and Greenpeace)
China’s carbon emissions may have peaked in 2014, but were they to rise in coming years the increase would be modest, a study said Monday.
The forces driving the recent reductions in China’s GHG emissions, namely a more moderated GDP growth rate and a restructuring of the economy, will continue unabated into the future, according to the Grantham Research Institute report.
“It is quite possible that emissions will fall modestly from now on, implying that 2014 was the peak. If emissions do grow above 2014 levels – if, say, a number of the risks identified earlier [in the paper] manifest – that growth trajectory is likely to be relatively flat, and a peak would still be highly likely by 2025,” the study said.
China’s official target is to peak its GHG emissions by 2030, but a growing number of analysts say that target will be reached several years early.
The Grantham report, authored by Lord Nicholas Stern and Fergus Green, said the shift away from coal-fired electricity and energy-intensive manufacturing industries will continue to make dents in China’s emissions.
However, there is a risk that increasing oil and gas demand or unauthorised expansions in new coal-based industries could still cause a net annual CO2 growth, although a modest one.
“The more governments and businesses understand the shift in China, the more they should see risks in the high-carbon economy and opportunities in the low-/zero-carbon economy, and should adjust their investments, innovation priorities, and institutional arrangements accordingly,” it said.
China on Saturday released its 2016-2020 five-year plan, expecting average annual GDP growth of 6.5%.
The government set a target of cutting carbon intensity 18% on 2015 levels by 2020, and capped energy consumption at 5 billion tonnes of standard coal equivalent by the end of the decade, up from 4.3 billion tonnes in 2015.
Xie Zhenhua, China’s special representative on climate change, on Monday dismissed the report, saying China’s emissions are still growing, Reuters reported.
An initial Greenpeace analysis of the five-year plan shows that the government expects CO2 emissions 1.5-2% annually until 2020, although the green group noted that “actual CO2 growth will be much lower”.
By Stian Reklev – email@example.com