By Michael Bastasch
New greenhouse gas emissions data from the environmental group Greenpeace shows China is still on track to meet its pledge to fight global warming under the Paris Agreement.
Greenpeace found China’s carbon dioxide emissions were increasing at their fastest rate in seven years, based on Chinese government figures, the Financial Times reported.
Wait, that can’t be right. How is that in line with the Paris accord?
That’s because China’s Paris accord pledge was to “peak” emissions by 2030, meaning they could increase in the years leading up to then. China’s 4-percent uptick in emissions in the first quarter of 2018 is still in line with its Paris pledge.
China’s CO2 emissions increased 1.2 percent in 2017, despite peaking coal demand, largely because “of rising oil and gas demand,” the International Energy Agency reported in March.
News of rising emissions in China comes a day before the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump announcing he would withdraw from the Paris accord. The U.S. is still technically part of the Paris agreement until at least 2019.
Trump said the Paris accord put the U.S. at a disadvantage by allowing countries, like China and India, to increase their emissions.
“This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States,” Trump said outside the White House in 2017.
“They can do whatever they want for 13 years. Not us,” said Trump, referring to China and India.
Rather ironically, China rebuffed Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris accord, which the Obama administration joined in 2016.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said “his country remained committed to the fight against climate change and to participating in international efforts for a greener world,” The New York Times reported in 2017.
The Paris accord aims to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, but allows countries to set their own emissions reduction goals. China promised to “peak” its emissions by 2030 and to reduce its emissions per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) — although the latter goal was crafted to inflate China’s actual emissions reductions.
Now, Chinese emissions are rising again after flatlining for a few years. China’s economy is coming out of a slight recession and energy demand is once again increasing.
“China is fundamentally critical for what happened to global emissions,” Niklas Höhne of the New Climate Institute told the Financial Times.
“The outlook for 2018 is actually bad,” Höhne said. “One major goal of the Paris agreement is that global emissions peak as soon as possible, and China is the one that determines in the end whether global emissions will peak soon or not. That is why all eyes are on China.”
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