WASHINGTON (AP) – China, the world’s leading emitter of global warming carbon dioxide, has seen significant reductions in emissions over the past three quarters, but it’s unclear how long that decline will continue.
A new analysis of China’s economic data shows that carbon emissions fell by 1.4% in the first three months of the year compared to the previous year, making it the third consecutive quarter of declines – and the longest steady decline in a decade.
The downward trend began last year and accelerated over the winter. The decline continued, but this spring was milder.
It is unclear whether emissions will continue to fall in China this year. Over the last decade, after five brief falls, emissions have followed.
The recent reduction in emissions in China was due to declining production in the cement, steel and energy industries, as well as COVID blocking measures, according to an analysis by Laura Milivirta, a climate and energy analyst at the Center for Energy and Clean Air Research in Finland. .
“Steel and cement are China’s second and third largest emission sectors, and demand for both sectors is largely driven by construction activity,” but changes in real estate and debt lending policies have at least temporarily led to a depression in the construction sector, Myllyvirta writes. for Carbon Brief.
Whether China will achieve its long-term goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2060 largely depends on what is happening in its energy sector.
And it depends on how quickly the world’s second-largest economy can move away from coal.
China’s leaders recently doubled plans to promote coal-fired power, calling for an increase in coal production capacity this year by 300 million tons, or 7% over last year.
Li Shuo, a senior global policy adviser at Greenpeace, told the Associated Press in April that economic problems, including China’s zero-COVID-19 policy, mean that China’s leaders prefer energy security over at least fossil fuels. in the short term.
“This energy security mentality has become dominant, outpacing carbon neutrality,” he said.
China is currently the world’s largest carbon emitter, although other countries, such as the United States, have contributed more to historical emissions.
China’s carbon dioxide emissions increased by 750 megatons over the two-year period from 2019 to 2021, leading to a global rebound in carbon emissions after the first phase of the pandemic, according to the non-profit Paris International Energy Agency.
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