Scientists wonder if greenhouse gas emissions in China have peaked, reversed

Scientists and researchers are pondering whether greenhouse gas emission in China has peaked.
By Jason Spencer | Apr 24, 2016
Scientists and researchers are pondering whether greenhouse gas emission in China has peaked.

In 2014, China was responsible for a quarter of the total greenhouse gas emissions on the planet earth. U.S. negotiators on behalf of President, Barack Obama, persuaded the Chinese government to pledge itself to a concrete deadline of 2030 for reversing its growing trajectory in emissions.

Environmental groups and activists praised the pledge at the time as a pivotal moment in the global battle against man affected climate change.

Now scientists and researchers are noticing data that suggests that the rate of carbon dioxide, the most prevalent greenhouse gas, is already falling over a decade before the Chinese pledged deadline.

"It is quite possible that emissions will fall modestly from now on, implying that 2014 was the peak," wrote Fergus Green and Nicolas Stern in a paper released in March, 2016 entitled China's changing economy: implications for its carbon dioxide emissions. "[But] the most easily available data is often insufficient for estimating emissions."

The level of greenhouse gases in China have been rising consistently since 2001 when it became a part of the World Trade Organization, so it reversing is a difficult proposition for some to fathom.

Greenhouse gas emissions are measured by the extrapolation of energy data so only rough numbers can be produced and usually only years after the emissions are actually rendered. Also, because it is an extrapolated number, different factors could change the actual Chinese statistics at any time.


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