Analysts have revised their estimates for CO2 emissions from fossil fuel consumption in 2015 to a 1-2% annual reduction, down from their previous 3% forecast, after China’s National Bureau of Statistics released final energy data for last year.
The data, published on Monday, showed that China consumed 4.3 billion tonnes of standard coal equivalent of energy in 2015, an increase of 0.9% year-on-year.
But the consumption rise was fuelled by renewable sources, as actual coal use dropped 3.7%, the data showed. Crude oil consumption grew by 5.6% while natural gas consumption increased by 3.3%.
These factors combined likely led to a drop in CO2 emissions of 1-2% in 2015 – the second consecutive year of falling output – energy analysts at Greenpeace said. In January they estimated the annual CO2 drop at 3% based on then-available data.
“These statistics show that China is on track to far surpass its Paris climate targets, which is great news for everyone,” said Greenpeace’s Lauri Myllyvirta.
“However, the trend is not moving as fast as it could. The introduction of a national coal consumption cap in the upcoming 13th Five Year Plan would quicken the pace of CO2’s decline, as well as help to bring clean and healthy air to the citizens of China.”
Coal consumption still accounted for 64% of total China’s energy consumption in 2015, the data showed.
Meanwhile, lower-CO2 energy consumption including hydropower, wind power, nuclear power and natural gas accounted for 17.9% of total energy consumption.
“I believe that China’s carbon emission intensity is likely to decrease by about 50% if China maintains the momentum during the 13th Five Year Plan period, exceeding the target of reducing carbon intensity by 40% to 45% by 2020 pledged by the Chinese government at COP-15,” said Yang Fuqiang, senior advisor at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
But Professor Boqiang Lin of China’s Xiamen University Institute for Studies in Energy Policy pointed out that growth projection of China’s emissions is still highly uncertain and the country still faces a huge task in drawing down its greenhouse gas output.
“There will be huge uncertainty in China’s future energy consumption mix and carbon emission outlook. China’s demand for coal is likely to recover once the economy turns for the better and energy demand rebounds. Even if total energy consumption growth rate is zero, to replace 1% coal consumption requires 10% growth in clean energy. This is not an easy task and we should not overestimate the trend.”
By Stian Reklev – firstname.lastname@example.org