China is on track to beat its peak-emissions 2015 Paris Agreement pledge
July 31, 2019 8:22 AM Subscribe
As China's service-sector surged circa 2014 (Invstopedia) and was continuing the shift in 2017 (Forbes), the country also continued to struggle to control its pollution problems (Forbes, 2017), because "China’s air pollution is influenced by a wide variety of physical and chemical factors; the problems are a lot more complex than most realize." But a recent study reports that China is on track to beat its peak-emissions pledge (Ars Technica, June 30, 2019).
From Ars Technica:
From Ars Technica:
The analysis uses data from 50 Chinese cities for a representative sampling of the factors at work across the country. The cities combine to account for about 35% of national emissions, 30% of the population, and 50% of total gross domestic product (GDP).The research (Nature Sustainability abstract only) notes that it could be even better.
These cities vary widely, from types of industry to affluence to sources of power on the local grid. But the researchers see evidence that these metropolises follow an economic relationship known as the environmental Kuznets curve (Wikipedia)—emissions per capita stops increasing once a certain GDP per capita is reached. The idea is basically that dirty growth eventually provides the resources to switch to cleaner options.
After adjusting for things like location (whether a city's electricity is supplied mainly by coal or by nuclear and renewables) and the population density of cities of different sizes, the researchers calculated that emissions reach a peak when per-capita emissions hit about 10 tons of CO2 per year. That happens at an average per-capita GDP of US$21,000.
When China signed the Paris Agreement in 2015, it was at an average of about 7.5 tons of CO2 per person per year and a per-capita GDP of $13,500. Based on World Bank economic projections, the researchers calculate China should hit $21,000—and so peak emissions—between 2021 and 2025.
That would equate to peak national emissions of 13-16 billion tons of CO2 per year, compared to emissions of roughly 10 billion tons of CO2 in 2015. (For context, the United States is emitting around 5.5 billion tons of CO2 each year with a little less than a quarter of China's population.)
This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments