A person walks past a coal-fired power plant in Jiayuguan, Gansu province, China on Thursday April 1, 2021.
Qilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images
China’s greenhouse gas emissions were higher than those of the United States and developed countries combined in 2019, according to a report by research and consultancy firm Rhodium Group released on Thursday.
The country’s emissions have more than tripled in the past three decades, the report added.
China is now responsible for more than 27% of total global emissions. The US, the world’s second largest emitter, accounts for 11% of total global emissions. India is responsible for 6.6% of global emissions, displacing the 27 EU countries, which account for 6.4%, the report said.
The findings come from a climate summit hosted by President Joe Biden last month, at which Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated his pledge to ensure the nation’s emissions peak by 2030 work together to tackle the climate crisis.
“We have to be committed to multilateralism,” said Xi during a brief remark at the summit. “China looks forward to working with the international community, including the United States, to jointly advance global environmental policy.”
Xi said China will control coal-fired power plants and limit increases in coal consumption over the next five years, with reductions over the next five years.
However, Chinese officials have also stressed that economic growth, which still largely relies on coal power, remains a priority. And the nation is still building coal-fired power plants.
In 2020 alone, the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China financed coal projects worth USD 474 million outside of China. According to Li Gao, general director of the Climate Change Division at China’s Department of Ecology, coal accounted for more than half of China’s domestic power generation last year.
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China, home to more than 1.4 billion people, emitted more than 14 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalents in 2019, more than three times what it was in 1990 and a 25% increase over the past decade, according to the Rhodium report. China’s per capita emissions also reached 10.1 tons in 2019 and have almost tripled in the past two decades.
According to rhodium estimates, China’s net emissions also increased by around 1.7% last year, while emissions from almost all other countries fell during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Rhodium Group is an American think tank that provides global emissions estimates and forecasts through ClimateDeck, a partnership with Breakthrough Energy, an initiative founded by Bill Gates.
Reducing CO2 emissions is one of the few areas where the US and China have agreed to work together.
Days before the summit, US special envoy on climate, John Kerry, traveled to Shanghai to meet with climate change officials. The two countries then issued a joint statement promising to tackle the climate crisis together with “seriousness and urgency”.
Biden has vowed to cut U.S. emissions by 50% to 52% by 2030, more than doubling the country’s previous commitment to the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The aim of the agreement is to keep the global temperature increase well below 2 degrees Celsius or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit compared to pre-industrial values. So far the world will warm by 1.5 ° C in the next two decades alone.
– CNBC’s Evelyn Cheng contributed to the coverage