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China’s Energy Data Reporting Flawed, Emissions Much Higher Than Previously Estimated


A new analysis reports that China’s carbon emissions could be 20% higher than earlier expectations, which suggest that there is a very high rate of climate change due to this. As it emerges as one of the newest superpower countries in the world, China is now the world’s top contributor of greenhouse gases, which triggers the rapid rise of the global temperature.

Although China is perceived to be the number one contributor of greenhouse gases, the accurate carbon emission of the country is dubious due to previous energy use data. This data helps compute the rate of climate change thus helping experts plan mitigating measures for extreme weather conditions such as droughts and floods.

According to the author of this study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, the use of energy and emission data will add deviations on the simulations for predicting climate change. A consortium of climate change experts and scientists from China, the United States and Britain studied the two sets of energy data obtained from China’s Bureau of Statistics. Dabo Guan, from the University of Leeds, led the team which studied the data of energy use for the entire country and the data obtained from provincial offices.

Using the emission inventory for the nation together with the data for the 30 provinces in the country obtained from 1997 to 2010, experts have found out big discrepancies between the two data sets. According to China’s official statistics, the carbon dioxide emissions have been growing by 7.5% yearly since 1997 and had reached the colossal value of 7.69 billion tons in 2010. This is in contrast with the aggregated values obtained for all provinces which 8.5% to 9.08 billion in 2010.

Based on the email reply sent by Guan to Reuters, the paper identified a “1.4-billion tonne discrepancy of carbon emission” between the two data, which indicates dubious data of the energy statistics of the country. He also noted that China is not the only country that has unreliable energy data.

The world’s temperature is rapidly rising by 20C every decade due to constant burning of nonrenewable fossil fuels and the rapid decline of natural forest cover. Moreover, the study also presented China’s challenges when it comes to the introduction of emission trading schemes and proper techniques to accurately measure the energy data at both local and as well national level.

According to the former Chinese energy official and adviser for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Yang Fuqiang, noted that the Chinese provinces underestimate their carbon emissions data and energy utilization rates which may have led to the discrepancies in the value. He also added that the “biggest concern regarding the accuracy as well as the reliability of the emission data is the use of coal.” Further, he also indicated that there are lots of small coal mines all over China that are not monitored properly.

Being the world’s top producer of greenhouse gases, China is now committed to reducing its impact to the environment. Currently, it aims to reduce the  greenhouse gases that it produces per unit GDP by as much as 16%. It also aims to limit its energy consumption to 4.1 billion tonnes  by the year 2015.

[via reuters]

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