Report: China’s Carbon Emissions Fall For The First Time Since Covid Lockdowns
According to data released Thursday, China’s CO2 emissions declined in the third quarter for the first time since the country reopened from Covid-19 lockdowns, perhaps signaling a carbon “turning point” for the country.
However, the analysis by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) warned that the possibility of an economic slowdown could push policymakers to turn to infrastructural stimulus measures, rising emissions once more.
The world’s second-largest economy has pledged to reach carbon neutrality by 2060 and to peak emissions before 2030, but authorities have failed to wean the country off its reliance on fossil fuels.
China’s emissions fell sharply in early 2020 as a result of widespread quarantines aimed at containing the coronavirus, but then rose to levels greater than in 2019, as towns and factories reopened.
However, according to CREA analyst Lauri Myllyvirta, the country reported a 0.5 percent year-on-year decrease in emissions from fossil fuels and cement in the third quarter of this year, the first quarterly drop since the post-lockdown resurgence.
According to Myllyvirta, the fall was caused by a construction slowdown following Beijing’s crackdown on real estate speculation and debt, as well as high coal costs, which resulted in electricity rationing across the country.
In his analysis, Myllyvirta stated, “The decline in emissions could indicate a turning point and an early peak in China’s emissions total, years ahead of its objective to peak before 2030.”
“If the Chinese government injects additional construction stimulus to strengthen its economy, emissions could climb once again, before peaking later this decade,” he said.
While the coal crisis was “created by ballooning coal consumption and price control policies,” Beijing may be unwilling to raise climate targets until the coal issue is fully resolved, according to Myllyvirta.
China’s climate obligations were thrust into the limelight during the recent COP26 climate meeting, with critics accusing the world’s largest polluter of not being bold enough in its emissions objectives.
The communist leadership is also under political pressure to avoid an economic recession, so officials are hesitant to commit to precise emission-reduction initiatives.
China expanded daily coal production by more than one million tonnes to address the energy shortage earlier this month, causing significant smog in regions of the country’s north.