The difference between China’s actual and reported CO2 emissions may be significant.
By Alison Fairbrother
June 11, 2012
The extent of China’s energy consumption has been a question with a murky answer for many years. A nation of 1.3 billion people, China surpassed the United States as the world’s leading greenhouse gas polluter in 2007. But scientists and policymakers alike have questioned whether data on carbon emissions in China is reliable enough to tell the full story.
A paper published yesterday in Nature Climate Change validates those concerns. China’s carbon emissions could be 20 percent higher than previous estimates, the study suggests, indicating that climate change may be occurring at an even more rapid and dangerous pace than previously thought.
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.”
Rather than addressing the inconsistencies in their data, the Chinese government earlier today argued that the climate crisis has been caused by developed nations, and that China has already taken appropriate steps to deal with climate change.
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