The carbon dioxide emissions of China – the world’s biggest polluter – have been significantly over-estimated by as much as 14 per for the past decade, scientists have found.
A reappraisal of the type of “dirty” coal used in Chinese power stations and the amount of energy it has generated has revealed that previous calculations of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions were considerably inflated, the researchers said.
Between 2000 and 2013, China’s cumulative emissions of CO2 were 2.9 gigatonnes less than previously estimated, they found. This shortfall is less than the natural “sink” for carbon stored in the country’s forests, they said.
In pictures: Changing climate around the world
In pictures: Changing climate around the world
Calved icebergs from the nearby Twin Glaciers are seen floating on the water in Qaqortoq, Greenland
Oroumieh, one of the biggest saltwater lakes on Earth, has shrunk more than 80 percent to 1,000 square kilometers in the past decade. It shrinks mainly because of climate change, expanded irrigation for surrounding farms and the damming of rivers that feed the body of water
A boat navigates among calved icebergs from the nearby Twin Glaciers in Qaqortoq, Greenland. Boats are a crucial mode of transportation in the country that has few roads. As cities like Miami, New York and other vulnerable spots around the world strategize about how to respond to climate change, many Greenlanders simply do what theyve always done: adapt. 'Were used to change, said Greenlander Pilu Neilsen. 'We learn to adapt to whatever comes. If all the glaciers melt, well just get more land
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is seen after being inaugurated in Longyearbyen, Norway. The 'doomsday' seed vault built to protect millions of food crops from climate change, wars and natural disasters opened deep within an Arctic mountain in the remote Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard
A technician preparing to drain a vast underground lake at the Tete Rousse glacier on the Mont Blanc Alpine mountain, to avert a potentially disatrous flood. Some 65,000 cubic metres (2.3 million cubic feet) of water have gathered in a cavity, dangerously raising the pressure beneath the mountain, a favourite spot for holiday makers in Saint-Gervais-les-Bains
Cracked mud is picture at sunrise in the dried shores of Lake Gruyere affected by continuous drought near the western Switzerland village of Avry-devant-Pont. A leading climate scientist warned that Europe should take action over increasing drought and floods, stressing that some climate change trends were clear despite variations in predictions
Cattle graze on grassland that remains dry and brown at the height of the rainy season in south of Bakersfield, California. Its third straight year of unprecedented drought, California is experiencing its driest year on record, dating back 119 years, and dating back as far as 500 years, according to some scientists who study tree rings
An aerial view shows tents of flood-displaced people surrounded by water in southern Sehwan town. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) executive secretary Christiana Figueres met with people displaced by last year's devastating floods. Catastrophic monsoon rains that swept through the country in 2010 and affected some 20 million people, destroyed 1.7 million homes and damaged 5.4 million acres of arable land
An aerial view of flooding in North Wagga Wagga. Climate change is amplifying risks from drought, floods, storm and rising seas, threatening all countries but small island states, poor nations and arid regions in particular, UN experts warned
Damages caused by a landslide on the Pan-American highway near La Moramulca, 55 Km south of Tegucigalpa. International highways have been washed out, villages isolated and thousands of families have lost homes and crops in a region that the United Nations has classified as one of the most affected by climate change
A resident sprays water on a peatland fire in Pekanbaru district in Riau province on Indonesia's Sumatra island. Indonesia, an archipelago of 17,000 islands, is one of the world's biggest carbon emitters because of rampant deforestation. US Secretary of State John Kerry Sunday issued a clarion call for nations to do to more to combat climate change, calling it 'the world's largest weapon of mass destruction'
An excavator clearing a peatland forest area for a palm oil plantations in Trumon subdistrict, Aceh province, on Indonesia's Sumatra island. As Southeast Asia's largest economy grows rapidly, swathes of biodiverse forests across the archipelago of 17,000 islands have been cleared to make way for paper and palm oil plantations, as well as for mining and agriculture. The destruction has ravaged biodiversity, placing animals such as orangutans and Sumatran tigers in danger of extinction, while also leading to the release of vast amounts of climate change-causing carbon dioxide
Stagnant rain water with tannery waste make the Hazaribagh area in Old Dhaka as well as Buriganga River the most polluted. Each year during the seven-month long dry season between October and April the Buriganga River becomes totally stagnant with its upstream region drying up and becoming polluted from toxic waste from city industries
Waste water from Dhaka city drained to the River Buriganga contributes to its pollutions. On the World Water Day observed in 2007 under the theme Coping with Water Scarcity, under the leadership of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, DrikNEWS explores some of the images of the river. UN-Water has identified coping with water scarcity as part of the strategic issues and priorities requiring joint UN action. The theme highlights the significance of cooperation and importance of an integrated approach to water resource management of water at international, national and local levels
Heavy smog has been lingering in northern and eastern parts of China, disturbing the traffic, worsening air pollution and forcing the closure of schools. China's Environment Ministry said it will send inspection teams to provinces and cities most seriously affected by smog to ensure rules on fighting air pollution are being enforced
“Our results suggest that Chinese CO2 emissions have been substantially over-estimated in recent years,” said Professor Dabo Guan of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, one of the members of the international research team.
“China is the largest coal consumer in the world, but it burns much lower quality coal, such as brown coal, which has a lower heat value and carbon content compared to the coal burned in the US and Europe,” Professor Guan said.
Nearly three quarters of the growth in global carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and cement production between 2010 and 2012 occurred in China, yet there are large uncertainties in the data due to the difficulties of estimating energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, the researchers said.
The study, published in the journal Nature, found that the total energy consumption in China was 10 per cent higher between 2000 and 2012 than reported in the country’s national statistics. However, when coal quality was taken into account, there was an average 40 per cent fall in overall emissions from power generation and 45 per cent fall in emissions from cement making.
Professor Corinne Le Quere, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at UEA, said that there were still a lot of uncertainties in the data, especially given the discrepancies between national and provincial figures.
“There is still a lot of work to do. The strong message here is that as we refine our estimates of carbon emissions we get closer to an accurate picture of what is going on and we can improve our climate projections and better inform policy on climate change,” Professor Le Quere said.
Professor Dave Reay of Edinburgh University said that the revision of China’s carbon emissions make no difference to the overall climate picture.
“China's emissions may be a bit less than we thought, but we know how much total CO2 there is in the atmosphere and it is monitored globally. This study therefore makes no difference to the total amount in the atmosphere; it simply means that accounting for Chinese emissions is getting better,” Professor Reay said.Reuse content