Greenhouse gas emissions by China

Greenhouse gas emissions by China are the largest of any country in the world both in production and consumption terms, and stem mainly from coal electricity generation and mining.[1] When measuring production-based emissions, China emitted over 12 gigatonnes (Gt) CO2eq of greenhouse gases in 2014;[2] almost 30% of the world total.[3] This corresponds to over 7 tonnes CO2eq emitted per person each year, slightly over the world average and the EU average but less than half the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases, the United States, with its 16 tonnes.[3] In consumption terms, China emits slightly less, with over 6 tonnes in 2016, slightly above the world average, but less than the EU average (close to 8 tonnes) and less than the United States by more than a half, with close to 18 tonnes per person.[4][5]

Jiangsu Nantong coal-fired power station

The targets laid out in China's Nationally Determined Contribution in 2016 will likely be met, but are not enough to properly combat global warming.[6] China has committed to peak emissions by 2030 and net zero by 2060.[7] In order to limit warming to 1.5 degrees C coal plants in China without carbon capture must be phased out by 2045.[8] China also established 10 binding environmental targets in its Thirteenth Five-Year Plan (2016-2020). These include an aim to reduce carbon intensity by 18% by 2020, as well as a binding target for renewable energy at 15% of total energy, raised from under 12% in the Twelfth Five-Year Plan.

Greenhouse gas sourcesEdit

Since 2000, rising CO
emissions in China and the rest of world have eclipsed the output of the United States and Europe.[9]
Per person, the United States generates carbon dioxide at a far faster rate than other primary regions.[9]

Since 2006, China has been the world's largest emitter of CO
annually.[10] China ratified the Kyoto Protocol as a non-Annex B party without binding targets, and ratified the Paris Agreement to fight climate change.[11] As the world's largest coal producer and consumer country, China worked hard to change energy structure and experienced a decrease in coal consumption since 2013 to 2016.[12] However, China, the United States and India, the three biggest coal users, have increased coal mining in 2017.[13] The Chinese government has implemented several policies to control coal consumption, and boosted the usage of natural gas and electricity[citation needed]. Looking ahead, the construction and manufacturing industries of China will give way to the service industry, and the Chinese government will not set a higher goal for economic growth in 2018; thus coal consumption may not experience continuous growth in the next few years.[12]

The annual CO
emissions of China were 10150.82 million tonnes in 2016, followed by the United States (5311.69 million tonnes) and India (2430.8 million tonnes).[14]

China is implementing some policies to mitigate the bad effects of climate change, most of which aim to constrain coal consumption. The Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) of China set goals and committed to peak CO2 emissions by 2030 in the latest, and increase the use of non-fossil fuel energy carriers, taking up 20% of the total primary energy supply.[15] If China successfully reached NDC's targets, the GHG emissions level would be 12.8–14.3 GtCO2e in 2030, reducing 64% to 70% of emission intensity below 2005 levels. China has surpassed solar deployment and wind energy deployment targets for 2020.[16]

Cumulative CO2 emissions of different countries (1970-2013)

Energy productionEdit

Electricity generationEdit

Coal fired power stationsEdit

China's main power source is coal in China, which it mostly mines but also imports. According to a major 2020 study by Energy Foundation China, in order to limit warming to 1.5 degrees C coal plants without carbon capture must be phased out by 2045.[8]

Transport fuelEdit

Home energyEdit

Energy consumptionEdit

According to the 2016 Chinese Statistical Yearbook published by China's National Bureau of Statistics, China's energy consumption was 430,000 (10,000 tons of Standard Coal Equivalent), including 64% coal, 18.1% crude oil, 5.9% natural gas, and 12.0% primary electricity and other energy in 2016. The percentage of coal has decreased since 2011, and the percentage of crude oil, natural gas and primary electricity and other energy have increased since 2011.[17]

China experienced an increase in electricity demand and use in 2017 as the economy accelerated.[18] According to the Climate Data Explorer published by World Resources Institute, China, the European Union and the U.S. contributed to more than 50% of global greenhouse gas emissions.[19] In 2016, China's greenhouse gas emissions accounted for 26% of total global emissions.[20] The energy industry has been the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions since the last decade.[19]

Although China has large countrywide emissions, its per capita carbon dioxide emissions are still lower than those of some other developed and developing countries. In 2007, China's per-capita emissions were 5.1 tons per person per year, compared to 19.4 in the U.S., 11.8 in Russia, and 8.6 in the EU 15.[21][22]



Iron and steelEdit


While the consequences of greenhouse gas emissions almost toward all the aspects of lives, the impact on agricultural production is likely to be particularly important. For example, the increment of temperature and decrease of precipitation has caused China a lower production of rice, wheat, and maize. On the opposite, China’s cotton production has increased. All these data technically does not responsible for the new technologies and new policies. “According to the World Resources Institute’s Climate Analysis Indicators Tool, the emission of greenhouse gas from agricultural sources constituted 15.4 percent of China’s total emission in 2005, behind only electricity, combustion, manufacturing, and construction”.[23] The main component of the emission that is coming out of the agricultural industry is nitrous oxide. The main effect of overdosing greenhouse gas emission is the fact that it changes the global temperature causing dramatic climate changes. These changes sometimes can shift the time of season backward or frontward. Season changes can also affect crop productions from time to time. Some crops such as wheat and corn, heavily rely on season changes and temperature variations. With the change in temperature, it is both hard for farmers and crops to grow and harvest. Now the effects of climate change may not seem too obvious, are momentous and have become larger and larger each year.


China’s agriculture sector is almost responsible for one-fifth of China’s total greenhouse gas emissions. While it is a significant amount, the main source of agricultural greenhouse gas emission is coming from the application of fertilizer. Other sources include excrement burning or pasture management are not as many as the fertilizer. Another element of causing greenhouse gas emissions in the agricultural sector is methane. It mainly comes from livestock corpse and farm management.[24]

In some studies, accounting for the benefits of CO2 fertilization reduces the negative impacts of climate change on crop yields in a projected increase in yield. For example. the use of CO2 fertilization increases the production of most crops. Estimation of climate change's impacts on crop yields differs on a large scale depending on CO2 fertilization effects. However, this is not always the case. When a considerable CO2 fertilization effect is taken into account, yields actually increase except some crops such as rice and corn.

China's grassland has faced a higher temperature situation in recent years, hence the drought is becoming more and more severe. The productivity of grassland has been low. In the future years, drought will be developing at a faster pace, and this phenomenon will remain the same or even worse on the farm unless China's government begins to adapt and make changes. Even though CO2 fertilization aggravates the scenario of greenhouse gas emissions, the method does have a significant impact on the production of crops.


In order to improve the situation of pollution and climate change, China has made a huge step toward changing the environment. It will begin implementing projects to prevent agricultural source pollution such as water contamination and soil contamination. What's more, farmers, like the government, can use different methods for their farming system and irrigation system as well.


The extent of the changes in yields highly depends on crops that are using CO2 fertilization. Some crops, therefore, increase the production due to the CO2 fertilization, but the method itself does have some severe impacts on climate change. The crop that relies on natural methods does not get the benefits at all because the climate is affected by CO2 fertilization. This level of tradeoff and balances depends on the China government and farmers.


Coal mine methaneEdit

China is by far the largest emitter of methane from coal mines.[25]


A 2011 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory report predicted that Chinese CO2 emissions will peak around 2030. This because in many areas such as infrastructure, housing, commercial building, appliances per household, fertilizers, and cement production a maximum intensity will be reached and replacement will take the place of new demand. The 2030 emissions peak also became China's pledge at the Paris COP21 summit. Carbon emission intensity may decrease as policies become strengthened and more effectively implemented, including by more effective financial incentives, and as less carbon intensive energy supplies are deployed. In a "baseline" computer model CO2 emissions were predicted to peak in 2033; in an "Accelerated Improvement Scenario" they were predicted to peak in 2027.[26]

Energy efficiencyEdit

In 2004, Premier Wen Jiabao promised to use an "iron hand" to make China more energy efficient.

Energy efficiency improvements have somewhat offset increases in energy output as China continues to develop. Since 2006, the Chinese government has increased export taxes on energy-inefficient industries, reduced import tariffs on certain non-renewable energy resources, and closed down a number of inefficient power and industrial plants. In 2009, for example, for every two new plants (in terms of energy generation capacity) built, one inefficient plant was closed. China is unique in its closing of so many inefficient plants.[27]

Carbon tradingEdit

China issued its first Climate Change Program in 2007, in response to its surpassing of the United States as the largest emitter of carbon dioxide emissions in the world.[28] The Chinese national carbon trading scheme was later announced in November 2008 by the national government to enforce a compulsory carbon emission trading scheme across the country's provinces as part of its strategy to create a "low carbon civilisation".[29] The scheme would allow provinces to earn money by investing in carbon capture systems in those regions that fail to invest in the technology.[30]

In 2011, the Chinese government announced the location of pilot systems for the proposed national carbon trading scheme. Since 2014, these projects have begun in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Guangdong, Hubei, and Chongqing. Each region's pilot covers different sectors (including cement and steel industries as well as other manufacturing and industrial sectors) and percentages of the region's emissions. Since August 2008, voluntary emissions trading among individual institutions has also begun in China.[31]

In 2017, China released specific details of its proposed national carbon market. This program would initially cover the country's power generation sector (which contributes to half of China's overall emissions), and within the power sector, only companies emitting 26,000 tons of carbon per year. Nathaniel Keohane, Vice President for Global Climate at the Environmental Defense Fund, said that this initial stage would cover 3.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions. However, other major emitters like the automobile industry, the industrializing agricultural sector and its huge chemical complexes, steel mills, and cement factories, do not fall under the program in its initial period.[32]

The national carbon emissions trading scheme has no binding timeline for implementation; however, trading is projected to begin in 2020, with the establishment of basic infrastructure set to continue through 2018 and simulated trading in the power sector to begin in 2019. After 2020, trading will hypothetically expand to also cover 7 other sectors: petrochemicals, chemicals, building materials, iron and steel, non-ferrous metals, paper, and civil aviation, for a total of about 6,000 companies.[33]

Renewable energyEdit

With $34.6 billion invested in clean technology in 2009, China is the world's leading investor in wind turbines and other renewable energy technologies.[34][35] China produces more wind turbines and solar panels each year than any other country.[36]

Nuclear power is planned to be rapidly expanded. By mid-century fast neutron reactors are seen as the main nuclear power technology which allows much more efficient use of fuel resources.[37]

China has also dictated tough new energy standards for lighting and gas kilometrage for cars.[38] China could push electric cars to curb its dependence on imported petroleum (oil) and foreign automobile technology.


Like India, cutting greenhouse gas emissions together with air pollution in China, saves enough lives to easily cover the cost.[39]

Impact of 2019–20 coronavirus outbreakEdit

The slowdown in manufacturing, construction, transportation, and overall economic activity resulting from the 2019–20 coronavirus outbreak created a temporary reduction by "about a quarter" in China's greenhouse gas emissions.[40][41]


The targets laid out in China's Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) in 2016 will likely be met, but are not enough to properly combat global warming.[6] China also established 10 binding environmental targets in its Thirteenth Five-Year Plan (2016-2020). These include an aim to reduce carbon intensity by 18% by 2020, as well as a binding target for renewable energy at 15% of total energy, raised from under 12% in the Twelfth Five-Year Plan. The Thirteenth Five-Year Plan also set, for the first time, a cap on total energy use from all sources: no more than 5 billion tons of coal through 2020.[42]

See alsoEdit


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External linksEdit