China’s greenhouse gasses over-estimated

China’s greenhouse gasses over-estimated

New calculations revise country's emission levels and hopes to provide more accurate measurements.

A report published Thursday by Nature and cited by CNN, shows that China’s greenhouse gas emissions have been overstated by international agencies and are actually some 2.9 giga-tons less carbon than previously estimated.  China’s emissions were estimated at about 14 percent lower.

China’s energy consumption, however, increased 10 percent faster than earlier estimates, for the period between 2000-2012.

A country with a population of almost 1.4 billion people, China is the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter.  The nation has pledged to peak its emissions by the year 2030 and has been praised as responsible leadership with regards to the climate issue.

Its faster-than-expected growth in energy consumption will make that promise even more difficult to fulfill.

China, which is the largest consumer of coal in the world, burns a lower-quality coal.  Lower quality has less carbon content and heat value compared to the coal used in Europe and the U.S.

The new study took into account the quality of the fuel burning to calculate the lower emissions levels.  This factor had been previously overlooked by most international sources, said the report.

Researchers say the take-away here is that we get a more accurate measure of what is happening and can improve the projections for climate change and make better informed policy decisions.

Coal is not the only factor in emission problems in the country.  According to Pep Canadell, Executive director of the Global Carbon Project at CSIRO, who was not involved in the study, cement production is responsible for about 5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

China’s industrial explosion represents a bigger fraction of those types of emissions.  More than half of global steel and cement are produced in China.

Experts say that in order for global climate change mitigation to be successful, China has to shift from the burning of coal to other energy sources and the country is making good progress towards that goal.

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