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China’s CO2 Emissions Higher Than They Seemed

Posted on Jun 12, 2012
CECAR - Climate and Ecosystems Change Adaptation R (CC BY 2.0)

Greenhouse gases pour out of a smokestack in China.

A paper published this week in Nature Climate Change shows China’s carbon emissions could be 20 percent higher than previous estimates, a disparity that would cast doubts on current predictions of the pace of climate change.


Authors analyzed data collected by China’s National Bureau of Statistics, and found discrepancies in the two publicly available datasets on energy consumption.

“The paper identifies a 1.4 billion tonne emission gap (in 2010) between the two datasets. This implies greater uncertainties than ever in Chinese energy statistics,” Dabo Guan, lecturer at Leeds University and a lead author of the paper, told Reuters.

The implications of this finding for global climate change are tremendous—the implications for policy perhaps even more so. The study’s authors warn that reliable national statistics are imperative for “global negotiations about future emission targets.”

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Just one correction. Reliable national emission statistics would be necessary for global negotiations about emission reduction targets if those talks were ever likely to produce a legally binding treaty, which so far, with the exception of the Kyoto Protocol and a few minor agreements, they haven’t.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly

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