Despite trade wars with the United States and the corona crisis that have crippled large sections of society, China is now setting new records in its industrial activities.
And thus new records of emissions of gases hostile to climate.
– Definitely disturbing
The large increase in steel and cement production is the main reason why Chinese CO emissions set a new record in the third quarter, writes Energiogklima.no.
– The fact that steel production and cement consumption have now increased is clearly worrying. They are the largest consumers of coal and one of the largest sources of carbon emissions and air pollution, says leading researcher Gørild Merethe Heggelund of the Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI) for Dagbladet.
He fell 25 percent
When the community was closed in January and February, satellite images showed that air quality had improved significantly. China’s CO emissions from fossil energy and cement production fell 25 percent when the country was closed in January this year due to covid-19.
But since May, emissions have risen sharply again, reaching a new high in the third quarter, three percent higher than in the same quarter of 2019, writes analyst Lauri Myllyvirta in a new analysis published in CarbonBrief.
The world is the largest
The large increase in CO₂ emissions is mainly due to increased activity in the steel and cement industries. Earlier this year, the Chinese government pumped billions of crowns to keep the industry afloat, which brought results. China now accounts for up to 58 percent of world steel production.
– The Covid-19 pandemic has not damaged the Chinese economy. The government unveiled a $ 430 billion stimulus package to the industry, which led to economic growth of 5 percent in the third quarter. Right now, the world is seeing them increase production, but they have also presented a green action plan for 2021-2035, which addresses how to reduce emissions. It gives hope, says Heggelund.
– Why do you think they are increasing production now?
– Since 2018, there has been a gradual increase in steel production. It’s a difficult problem, but you can imagine trying to reach higher production to fix the trade war against the United States, says Heggelund.
Increased steel production by 10 percent
This does not bode well for carbon emissions. The steel industry is China’s largest consumer of coal energy and a major source of air pollution. From July to September, steel production increased by up to ten percent. Cement production also increased by five percent during the same period.
Gas and oil consumption have also increased. The same goes for building materials.
Several coal-fired power plants
In 2014, the Chinese provinces gained greater investment autonomy. As a result, a number of new coal-fired power plants were built across the country. The question now is whether the new five-year plan, approved by the People’s Congress in March next year, China’s highest political body, will sign energy and climate ambitions.
– I think they will, but just as Norway cannot stop oil production overnight, I think China needs to have a fast transition phase and replace coal with other energy sources. This is a complex issue, with tens of millions of people living in the coal industry, and it must be several years before the change is completed, says Heggelund.
China’s powerful leader Xi Jinping has announced that the country will peak emissions by 2030. At the same time, he announced at the UN General Assembly that China will be carbon neutral by 2060.
– China’s economy was highly dependent on coal. Energy demand in China is huge, and a few years ago more than 70 percent of total energy demand was based on coal. This share has decreased, but the question is whether this process must not proceed even faster.
You want a green shift
He believes that China has a clear self-interest in reducing coal consumption and pollution.
– They want green change – with a focus on innovation and technology – both in terms of public health and in terms of having a large agricultural sector. They are also hard hit by drought, floods or other natural disasters related to climate change, Gørild Merethe Heggelund told Dagbladet.