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Green Myth Exposed: China’s CO2 Emissions Jumped By 4% Last Year

January 31, 2018

By Paul Homewood



I reported back in November how provisional figures suggested that coal consumption was on the rise again in China, along with emissions of CO2.


Now, according to the NYT, official figures are confirming this:




DAVOS — Chinese President Xi Jinping galvanised supporters of the climate-change fight last year when he told an audience at the World Economic Forum that the effort “is a responsibility we must assume for future generations.”

This week, as they gather again in Davos for the annual global gabfest, world leaders continue to see China as a major force in that fight.

Yet new figures show a complicating development: China’s emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases may be rising again.

China — which already emits more carbon from burning fossil fuels than the United States and Europe combined — saw electricity use jump last year as its economy accelerated.

Much of the extra demand was met by burning more coal, a particularly dirty fuel. Oil use has also risen as China has become the world’s largest car market, and so has natural gas consumption.

Experts say one annual increase doesn’t indicate China is returning to an era when its emissions grew by leaps and bounds. But the increase illustrates the challenges and compromises Beijing must juggle if it wants to stoke its economy and at the same time keep its environmental promises. […]

But China’s National Development and Reform Commission released detailed data this week showing that the country’s electricity consumption jumped 6.6 percent last year. Wind and solar energy grew quickly, but not nearly enough to meet the extra demand. Electricity generation from the burning of fossil fuels, almost entirely coal, rose 5.2 percent in China last year.

“The increase last year is a one-off — it’s not likely to be sustained — but Chinese emissions are not likely to go down, either,” said Trevor Houser, a partner at the Rhodium Group, a New York consulting group specializing in China. Rhodium estimates that China’s energy-related carbon emissions climbed last year 2.2 percent to 4.1 percent.

By contrast, China had somewhat weak industrial production in the second half of 2015 and the first half of 2016 because of a financial crisis. That hurt the Chinese economy and fossil fuel consumption in both years. China still burns coal to generate three-quarters of its electricity.


According to the NYT, China’s generation of electricity by wind power climbed by about one-quarter last year, while solar power jumped by three-quarters, Mr. Yan said.

But, of course, this is from a very low base of 4% and 1% respectively. The quoted increases would amount to 110 Twh.

Fossil fuel generation in 2016 was 4387 TWh, so an increase of 5.2% equates to 228 Twh.

Nobody seriously expects China’s energy demand or emissions to continue at the rapid rate of the early 2000s. Economic growth will progressively come from low energy intensive sectors.

Also the use of coal for domestic and local industrial purposes will be cut back, for genuine pollution concerns, just it was in western economies half a century ago.

Nevertheless, energy demand will continue to grow. While it does, renewable energy is unlikely to make much more than a dent in emissions.

  1. January 31, 2018 8:03 pm

    China has a huge gas deal with Russia starting this year. More harmless CO2.

  2. John F. Hultquist permalink
    January 31, 2018 9:41 pm

    With respect to China, I think they said check back about 2030, maybe a little sooner.
    I hope it is sooner. My “best by” date is in the rearview mirror. I do hope to see 2030.

    Unlike Germany, Australia, and some others — the China government seems to know what they are doing.

    • dave permalink
      February 1, 2018 9:14 am

      “…a responsibility we must assume for future generations…”

      What he actually meant was :

      “…a responsibility we must assume (eventually, maybe); anyway, it is for future generations to consider – not me, that is for sure!…”

      The British Civil Servant is not the only one with a toe for kicking things into the long grass.

  3. January 31, 2018 9:57 pm

    Poland got the heat from the BBC Nazgul on radio 4 a few days ago, why are you still burning coal, its causing poor air, the EU wants renewables? Nobody gave the obvious answer, or it was edited out by a poor female editor slaving away for minimum wage:

    Air pollution only occurs with still air, and people need most heat at night, so to stop them from having to burn coal for heat you must build many more coal-fired power stations, to provide enough electricity to allow cooking and some electric heating. Wind and solar are irrelevant, gas may help if available there, but the BBC are fixated on renewables and electric cars.

  4. Mack permalink
    January 31, 2018 10:08 pm

    Imagine if President Trump had claimed that fighting climate change was a “responsibility we must assume for future generations” and then committed himself and his government to combating it. And then, within just a year of making such a bold statement, he had boosted US Co2 emissions by 4%. He possibly might not have been lauded by our alarmist friends as highly as they do the benevolent greenies at the top of the Chinese dictatorship for their new found ‘leadership’ in the global warming debate. Can’t imagine why. I see that the warmista run Macron and Merkel regimes have done equally badly in hitting their emission targets recently, despite their climate change grandstanding and condescension towards the US. A country which, incidentally, has done a much better job than the whinging Euro blowhards in reducing emissions latterly. Perhaps Trump should go over to the dark side immediately, do a 2 page interview in the Guardian or NYT, profess his sins and claim that he has now seen the light and will fight tooth and nail to fight global warming…….. and then fund the opening of hundreds of new coal fired power stations. Just like President Xi Jinping! He might even get away with it with the brain dead green tinged media just like the Chinese, Germans and French. Oops, I forgot, he’s white, male, rich, a republican (for now), an American and his name isn’t Obama. No chance. Jinping good. Trumping bad!

  5. markl permalink
    February 1, 2018 1:34 am

    It’s all nothing but propaganda when it comes to CO2 mitigation. If CO2 is so deadly why isn’t China targeted …. the world’s largest CO2 emitter ….. or even mentioned as a destroyer of the environment? It’s OK for them but not selected others? The hypocrisy stinks.

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      February 1, 2018 9:00 am

      You miss the obvious possibility that the Greens cannot do arithmetic. They may well have assumed that China means what it says, therefore their actions will all be good (for the cause). That China has worked out that the AGW scam is a load of bovine excreta but makes noises to gain some benefit for China completely excapes them.
      Just as in the comments in The Australian today, where it was pointed out that Al Gore’s predictions were at odds with the actual outcome, one greenie immediately posted that the reduction in temperature below his (Gore’s) predictions was “proof” that he was right in his claim of ever rising temperatures.

      • dave permalink
        February 1, 2018 9:23 am

        “…one greenie immediately posted…”

        When C.P.Snow did his trite little piece about “the two cultures” fifty years ago, he got the identifications of the fault line wrong. It is not Science vs Art. It is “Right, and humbly ingenious” vs “Left, and proudly dim.”

    • Adam Gallon permalink
      February 1, 2018 9:39 am

      Ah, but if you look at emissions per head of population………………!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      The USA is still the WORLD’S WORST POLLUTER! you horrible Trumptondenialistkochlover!

      • DeplorableMe permalink
        February 1, 2018 11:20 pm

        Why would per capita pollution even matter you blowhard? We’re talking about the entire world. Aggregate totals matter, not per capita. Nice job shilling for 3rd world dictatorial “communist-cut-your-dick-off-in-the-street-for-protesting-and-pretend-they’re-cutting-CO2-emissions-when-they’re-up-to-virtual-signal-to-dummies-like-you” China

  6. February 1, 2018 1:15 pm

    A Marxist regime, such as China, lies. Who knew?

  7. February 1, 2018 1:58 pm

    Paul – o/t but you might be interested in the MetO 5 year forecast released yesterday;

    31 January 2018

    A new forecast published by scientists at the Met Office indicates the annual global average temperature is likely to exceed 1 °C and could reach 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels during the next five years (2018-2022).

    There is also a small (around 10%) chance that at least one year in the period could exceed 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels (1850–1900), although it is not anticipated that it will happen this year. It is the first time that such high values have been highlighted within these forecasts.

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