New dynamics of energy use and CO2 emissions in China


Liu Z, Zheng B, Zhang Q, Guan D. New dynamics of energy use and CO2 emissions in China. Nature. Submitted.


Global achievement of climate change mitigation will heavy reply on how much of CO2 emission has and will be released by China. After rapid growth of emissions during last decades, China’s CO2 emissions declined since 20141 that driven by decreased coal consumption, suggesting a possible peak of China’s coal consumption and CO2 emissions2. Here, by combining a updated methodology and underlying data from different sources, we reported the soaring 5.5%  (range: +2.5% to +8.5%  for one sigma) increase of China’s CO2 emissions in 2018 compared to 2017, suggesting China’s CO2 is not yet to peak and leaving a big uncertain to whether China’s emission will continue to rise in the future. Although our best estimate of total emission (9.9Gt CO2 in 2018) is lower than international agencies3-6 in the same year, the results show robust on a record-high energy consumption and total CO2 emission in 2018. During 2014-2016, China’s energy intensity (energy consumption per unit of GDP) and total CO2 emissions has decreased driven by energy and economic structure optimization. However, the decrease in emissions is now offset by stimulates of heavy industry production under economic downturn that driving coal consumption (+5% in 2018), as well as the surging of natural gas consumption (+18% in 2018) due to the government led “coal-to-gas” energy transition to reduce local air pollutions. Timing policy and actions are urgent needed to address on these new drivers to turn down the total emission growth trend.