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China’s emissions ‘could peak 10 years earlier than Paris climate pledge’–Claim Carbon Brief

August 8, 2019

By Paul Homewood



h/t Joe Public


You may have seen this claim:



CO2 emissions in China may peak up to a decade earlier than the nation has pledged under the Paris Agreement, according to a new study.

With its enormous population and heavy reliance on coal, China is by far the world’s biggest polluter, responsible for more emissions than the US and EU combined.

One of the drivers behind Chinese emissions is the intense urbanisation that has taken place across the country in recent years, as millions of people flock from rural areas to rapidly expanding cities.

However, in new analysis published in Nature Sustainability, a team of researchers has shown that as China’s burgeoning cities become wealthier, their per capita emissions begin to drop.

According to their analysis, this trend could in turn trigger an overall dip in CO2 levels across the nation, and mean that despite the current target for emissions peaking by 2030, they may in fact level out at some point between 2021 and 2025…..

This trend has already been seen in some of the nation’s largest cities, such as Beijing, which saw its emissions peak at 9 tonnes of CO2 per capita around 2007. While the researchers say each city’s emissions peak will be different, their results suggest they will take place once per capita GDP reaches around US$21,000 [see figure below].


In fact the study is hopelessly flawed. as even the article states, as cities grow wealthier they consume more energy for things like transport and buildings. In addition, of course, they also but more goods, food and so on, all of which are energy intensive:

“Industries are currently the major sources of emissions in Chinese cities, which is very different from the cities of developed countries. Emissions of transportation and buildings are growing rapidly when the cities become wealthier.”

The key is that bit about industry.

In the west, we have seen a gradual decline of heavy industry. But this has not disappeared, it has simply migrated abroad.

And as climate economics expert Jan Korsbakken points out in the article:

The large cities in the study that have already managed to reverse their emissions growth have done so by cutting down on heavy industry and power generation within their city limits. However, this means they have to import more industrial products and electricity from elsewhere, as Korsbakken explains:

“All cities can’t do that. At some point, you run out of places to move the heavy industry and power plants to. They could potentially move much of their industrial production abroad and import the products, but then emissions would need to go up in some other countries.”

It may be that China will eventually get to the stage where its heavy industry begins to decline, to be replaced by imports from other countries. After all, we have seen exactly the same phenomenon in Japan in the last decade or two. But this will have no effect on global emissions.

And it most certainly won’t happen overnight. China’s build up of heavy industry over the last two decades has been so immense, that it is hard to see any other country or combination of countries replicating it.

In any event, China’s Communist Party would never allow its economic base to be eroded in any significant way for political and strategic reasons.

Meanwhile, back in the real world:

ScreenHunter_4664 Aug. 08 10.39

Long-term cuts in coal consumption are a key part of China’s energy, environment and climate goals, but the fivefold increase in new mine approvals in the first-half of 2019 suggests China’s targets still provide ample room for shorter-term growth.

China’s energy regulator gave the go-ahead to build 141 million tonnes of new annual coal production capacity from January to June, compared to 25 million tonnes over the whole of last year, Reuters analysis of approval documents showed.

The projects included new mines in the regions of Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Shanxi and Shaanxi that are part of a national strategy to consolidate output at dedicated coal production “bases”, as well as expansions of existing collieries, the National Energy Administration (NEA) documents showed.


The Reuters article also falls for the” reducing share of coal”:

Beijing aims to raise the share of non-fossil fuels in its overall energy mix to 15% by the end of next year from around 14.3% currently, and to 20% by 2030. It cut the share of coal to 59% last year, down from 68.5% in 2012.


In fact, coal consumption in China is virtually unchanged since 2012, when it was 1927 Mtoe. According to BP, it was 1906 Mtoe last year.

  1. August 8, 2019 11:04 am

    Reblogged this on Climate- Science.

  2. Joe Public permalink
    August 8, 2019 11:18 am

    There’s the minor fact that China’s Paris INDC pledged to peak “around” 2030, so Carbon Brief’s claim it could peak “10 years earlier” i.e. by ‘around’ next year is plainly ludicrous.

  3. Pancho Plail permalink
    August 8, 2019 11:31 am

    Only a fool would put any credence in Chain’s pledges.

    • Pancho Plail permalink
      August 8, 2019 11:31 am

      Or even China’s!

  4. Pancho Plail permalink
    August 8, 2019 11:32 am

    Or even China’s!

    • Pancho Plail permalink
      August 8, 2019 11:33 am

      Sorry Paul, I don’t seem to have got the hang of this yet.

  5. Ian Magness permalink
    August 8, 2019 11:48 am

    And, of course, this is assuming that any “carbon emissions” statistics allowed to be released by the Chinese government through its controlled media can be relied upon. This strikes me as one of the biggest “climate change” delusions of them all: how on Earth can anyone – especially external bodies – even begin to estimate (and then monitor) the “carbon emissions” of a country the scale and complexity of China? Do we really know the number of power plants, factories and cars and their detailed CO2 efficiency? Does anyone know how many CH4-belching animals exist or greenhouse gas-emitting rice-cultivating hectares there are? I very, very much doubt it and the Chinese government will not be minded to compile and issue the facts even if they could get them.

    Surely, any pretence of real understanding China’s “emissions” and thus whether they are rising or falling is pure, naive fantasy?

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      August 8, 2019 12:10 pm

      You are quite right about that. I did a comparative study of BP’s statistics on Chinese coal production and consumption over successive editions. They showed radical revisions sometimes of most of the history. One year BP even wrote an article explaining some of their revisions. The quality of Chinese statistics is highly dubious.

    • Edward J Max permalink
      August 9, 2019 12:44 pm

      Year 2021 Beijing : No that isn’t smog you see. It is low atmospheric brown clouds. The MSM agrees.

  6. It doesn't add up... permalink
    August 8, 2019 12:12 pm

    The one thing that does seem to be limiting Chinese emissions at the moment is recession largely on the back of Trump’s trade war. He has done more to furnish Chinese emissions than endless climate conferences.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      August 8, 2019 12:14 pm

      I really hate tablet autocorrect. Furnish should be diminish.

  7. mjr permalink
    August 8, 2019 12:37 pm

    I might be being thick here but ….. “Beijing, which saw its emissions peak at 9 tonnes of CO2 per capita around 2007” ….. So if this is the basis for saying that emissions will peak, then whilst the per head may peak, surely all these cities will continue to expand and increase in population. so total emissions will continue to rise. And the emissions of a person who has moved to a city must be higher than they had been when they lived in the country .So we are all still going to hell in a electric wind powered handcart (copyright Extinction Rebellion)

  8. Harry Passfield permalink
    August 8, 2019 12:52 pm

    I’m sure Harabin will be available to lecture their farmers on the huge amount of ‘carbon’ they are releasing through their land-use methods. /s (if it matters at all, it’s probsbly more than all UK’s emissions put together. He claims IPCC says UK soil emissions are 25% of UK total).

  9. mikewaite permalink
    August 8, 2019 1:55 pm

    I intend to take this article at face value – after all it is peer reviewed in one of the most distinguished academic journals . Consequently I will be contacting Gummer et al and those pessimists at the BBC to say that there is no need to reduce UK to Mesollithic living conditions in order to save the planet from hell fire because the Chinese are already on the brink of saving us. What a relief.

  10. Bertie permalink
    August 8, 2019 1:57 pm

    I couldn’t give a **** about China’s emissions. They are not doing any harm – other than to the other industrialised countries; but none to the world’s climate. We shouldn’t even bother to discuss it!

    • Rupert Wyndham permalink
      August 8, 2019 2:02 pm

      Entire;y agree.

    • Henning Nielsen permalink
      August 9, 2019 7:34 am

      Indeed, but then, IMO what we are discussing is rather the false claims about China’s emissions.

  11. Gerry, England permalink
    August 8, 2019 2:13 pm

    Manufacturing in Japan became expensive and so it was moved off-shore. I was surprised to find a Japanese brand mini hifi was made anywhere but Japan. Christ, even one bit was made in the UK. First Taiwan was popular, then Malaysia, now Vietnam is the place to go.

    With all their growing links to Africa, I can see them setting up factories there and will probably sort out any local political problems with a bit of killing.

  12. markl permalink
    August 8, 2019 4:48 pm

    And it’s a good thing that China continues to grow their emissions but maybe for a less period of time than anticipated? Talk about spin!

  13. Athelstan. permalink
    August 8, 2019 5:09 pm

    Burn coal, in the UK we should get on the bandwagon, if it’s good enough tor China, India, Japan, Germany and Russia, SA, US, Poland, why not?

    CO2, man made or mostly not, we need it, the world needs it!

  14. August 8, 2019 5:19 pm

    There are only two comments under the article, both from me saying how deluded you’d have to be to believe this, given China’s new airport plans and new coal railways.

    • Henning Nielsen permalink
      August 9, 2019 7:32 am

      I wonder if James Hansen has used the expression “death trains” about those Chinese coal transports?

  15. August 8, 2019 10:46 pm

    Then there’s the not-so-small matter of China buying $400 billion worth of Russian gas,

    That’s a 30-year deal so emissions reduction is a long way off there 😆

  16. wheewiz permalink
    August 8, 2019 11:49 pm

    Why does anyone care about CO2 emissions. The whole pollution scare is utter nonsense, along with much else

  17. Gamecock permalink
    August 9, 2019 3:07 am

    ‘CO2 emissions in China may peak up to a decade earlier than the nation has pledged under the Paris Agreement’

    It is equally true that the peak may be a decade LATER.

    “May” is doing a lot of work there. What we have in this report is serious, independent SPECULATION.

  18. Henning Nielsen permalink
    August 9, 2019 7:30 am

    Only Trump can save the climate, by freezing the economic growth of China / sarc

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