China has met its goal of reducing its carbon intensity — emissions per unit of GDP — three years before schedule. But more global effort is required to reduce the world’s emissions of greenhouse gases and tackle climate change, according to a report published on Nov 16.
In 2017, China’s carbon intensity, measured in kilograms of carbon emitted to produce $1 of gross domestic product, was 46 percent lower than in 2005, fulfilling China’s goal to cut carbon emissions by 40 to 45 percent by 2020. The goal was set by the State Council in 2009.
The results are from the 2018 Global Ecological Environment Sensing report published by the National Remote Sensing Center under the Ministry of Science and Technology. China’s renewable energy sector had also saved the nation from emitting 425 million metric tons of carbon gas in 2017, it said.
“The Chinese government has been effective in slowing down its carbon emissions rate, fulfilling its commitment to the world,” said Wang Qi’an, director of the sensing center.
However, despite the gradual decrease, China’s carbon intensity level is still higher than that of developed countries, with China emitting 0.25 kg of carbon per $1 of GDP in 2016. In comparison, the United States, as well as the 28 countries of the European Union taken as a group, only had a carbon intensity of 0.08 and 0.06 respectively during the period.
The report also found China, followed by the United States, are the world’s top carbon emitting countries among the world’s major economies, producing around 2.77 and 1.45 billion tons in 2016. The US is also the world’s largest carbon emitter in terms of average emissions per person, at around 4.5 metric tons per person in 2016, significantly greater than the global average of 1.3 tons per person.
China, the European Union and India emitted around 2, 1.9 and 0.5 tons per person respectively in 2016. “China will need more technological innovations, as well as to change its industrial and energy structures to improve its energy efficiency,” Wang said.
By the end of 2017, China’s renewable energy generating capacity had reached 650 million kilowatts, and the ratio of non-fossil fuel energy in the national energy structure was around 13.8 percent, closing in on the 15 percent goal set for 2020, the report said.
More than 1,700 power companies, accounting for more than 3 billion tons of carbon emissions, had entered China’s pilot carbon market by the end of 2017. The market allows the trading of carbon emission units between companies, encouraging them to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Guo Huadong, a researcher from the Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said, “China will continue to share its data and knowledge to the world, and contribute to jointly tackling climate change, preserving the environment and achieving sustainable development goals.”
Some of the planet’s largest carbon emitting regions include the eastern and western parts of United States, Western Europe, East Asia and the northern parts of South Asia. The burning of fossil fuel is the primarily carbon source, accounting for around 87.9 percent of all emissions produced in 2016.
“It will take a global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change,” said Wang.
These efforts include cutting emissions, enhancing ecological monitoring and protection efforts, and improving the carbon-absorbing capability from land-based ecosystems, such as tropical rain forests.