Sustainable Energy

Study: China's emissions 'may have peaked'

Paul Chesley | Photographer's Choice | Getty Images

China's carbon dioxide emissions may have already peaked in 2014, according to a report published Monday.

The Chinese government is currently meeting in Beijing for the National People's Congress to put the finishing touches on its next five-year economic plan. As the Congress continues, the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the London School of Economics have issued a joint study on China's projected economy and energy use.

"It is quite possible that emissions will fall modestly from now on, implying that 2014 was the peak," said the report, highlighting data that shows China's emissions actually fell in 2015.

China's heavy industry export-led economy has provided rapid growth to the country, but is viewed as unsustainable and environmentally damaging.

In 2014, China pledged to lower greenhouse gas from around 2030 onwards.

The report suggested that a 2030 peak was far too late and that if CO2 emissions do grow from this point forward, they "are likely to peak at some point in the decade before 2025."

During a press briefing reported by Reuters, Xie Zhenhua, China's climate change envoy, disputed the claim that CO2 emissions are retreating from record levels.

"You asked whether our emissions had peaked in 2014 - certainly not.

"In fact, our carbon dioxide emissions are still increasing," he said.

As the Chinese economy rotates towards a model based on domestic consumption, growth in energy use has tailed off.

Primary energy consumption slowed to less than 1 percent year-on-year in the first three-quarters of 2015 according to the National Bureau of Statistics of China.

And while in 2013 half of the entire world's coal was being burnt in China, the paper argues that the country is now moving to a wider mix of energy supply.

The Chinese Electricity Council states that in 2014, China added 22 gigawatts (GW) of hydroelectric capacity, more than 5 GW of nuclear, 21 GW of wind, and 11 GW of solar.