China’s carbon emissions to peak early in 2025

08 June by


China is the world biggest carbon emitter, and is on course to discharge 12.5-14 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in 2025, after which emissions will decline, according to a new study by the London School of Economics (LSE).

China’s greenhouse gas emissions will probably peak in 2025, five years earlier than its stated target, the study suggested.

“This finding suggests it is increasingly likely that the world will avoid global warming of more than 2C above pre-industrial levels,” the report states.

“Analysing trends in the key emitting sectors, we conclude that China’s greenhouse gas emissions are unlikely to peak as late as 2030, the upper limit set by President Xi Jinping in November 2014, and are much more likely to peak by 2025,” said the paper, co-authored by climate economist Nicholas Stern and analyst Fergus Green.

The report pointed out that Chinese coal consumption fell in 2014 and in the first quarter of 2015, after years of growth that led to severe air pollution in its cities and massive emissions of greenhouse gases.

The researchers calculated that China’s coal use has reached a “structural maximum” and should plateau over the next five years, while natural gas use grows rapidly.

Encouragingly, Reuters report today (8th June 2015) that “China's coal imports slumped sharply in May as policies aimed at cutting imports of low-quality grades and increasing the use of cleaner energy undermined industry expectations of a pick-up in seasonal demand, data showed on Monday.”

May's coal imports of 14.25 million tonnes were down 28.6 percent on April, according to the data, while Reuters calculations showed that imports were down 40.6 percent compared to May 2014.

The report concludes; “China’s actions on climate change have, more than any other country, the potential to steer global expectations, markets and policies toward the low-carbon economy.” 

“Eventually, this increasing momentum could unleash a large wave of clean energy investment, innovation and growth — a new energy-industrial revolution. This is the only engine of domestic and global growth that can be sustained over the medium and long term and China holds the keys."