The numbers show that China has not reduced its emissions at all and is actually burning 17% more coal than what was previously reported. The New York Times writer who first reported news of the deception, Chris Buckley, estimates that the country has gone through one billion more tons each year than everyone thought.
The government has led people to believe the numbers were dropping for several years. Things seemed to be going well: Beijing promised to stop coal use altogether by the year 2020 in six of its districts, and also that they had dropped carbon emissions from coal by 7% during the first half of 2014. The country had also promised to ban both sales and imports of coal with large amounts of sulphur and ash.
This year, the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics reported that coal consumption around the country has fallen 2.9%. Even Energydesk, a Greenpeace operation, found that Chinese coal use had fallen 8%, with emissions falling 5%.
CleanTechnica reports that the amount of extra carbon China has been burning is actually more than is emitted by the entire economy of Germany.
It’s still unknown whether the government was being intentionally deceptive, and why their numbers would have been so drastically wrong if they weren’t. According to the New York Times article, an analyst from the United States Energy Information Administration admits that the whole situation has been “confusing”, but that this week’s news aligned with her own findings.