A study by Peking University said that increased summer rains, efforts to plant forests, an expansion of shrubland, shifts in crop use and higher bamboo mass soaked up between 28 and 37 percent of industrial emissions in the 1980s and 1990s.
The study gave the first estimate of the impact of plants in offsetting carbon dioxide emissions in China, which has recently overtaken the United States as top emitter. Plants soak up carbon as they grow and release it when they burn or rot.
The report, in the journal Nature, also said that China’s plants and soils soaked up more carbon per square metre than in Europe but less than in the United States.
But a U.S. scientist said the percentage of emissions absorbed by plants was falling because a surge in economic growth in recent years meant China’s industrial emissions were expanding faster than vegetation.