Coal Consumption Higher Than Previously Thought

Coal Consumption Higher Than Previously Thought

In January, China reported that the it’s coal use fell by just over 2 percent in 2014—the first decline seen this century, and a sign that the coal-reliant country’s consumption may have peaked. Months later, Greenpeace reported that China saw a related 5 percent cut in carbon emissions in the first four months of 2015 when compared to the same period in 2014. A new analysis of official Chinese data by the U.S. Energy Information Administration corroborates the good news, but also finds that China’s coal production and consumption between 2000 and 2013 may have been significantly higher than previously reported. The Wall Street Journal’s Brian Spegele reports:

A newly released analysis of Chinese government data by the U.S. Energy Information Administration found over the past decade-plus, China consumed as much as 14% more coal on an energy-content basis than previously reported. Its domestic coal production meanwhile was as much as 7% higher between 2000 and 2013.

In practical terms, the new analysis means that during a period of speedy growth, China consumed as much as hundreds of millions more metric tons of coal than previously understood.

[…] The EIA’s analysis also supports those who say China’s coal consumption has peaked, at least for the time being. It estimates China’s coal consumption dropped 2% last year. Rampant air-pollution levels that are a source of public discontent in China helped force the Chinese government to slightly shift its energy mix away from coal in recent years. Alternative sources of energy production—from solar to natural gas—are growing in use, but coal’s huge consumption base means any significant changes will be gradual and could take decades.

The upward revisions are also a reminder of just how unreliable Chinese government data can be – a fact that makes project planning a vastly difficult task for commodity producers and other businesses that sell to China. […]

[…] Questions over China’s coal demand are nothing new. Among other issues related to China’s statistics, the EIA says, are national totals that frequently don’t match the sum of provincial totals. Accurate data-keeping is one topic routinely discussed between Chinese and U.S. officials. […] [Source]

Mounting public concern over air quality in recent years has prompted government reaction. In March 2014, Premier Li Keqiang declared “war against pollution” at the opening of the NPC. In November 2014, Xi Jinping singed an informal agreement with Washington pledging to cap emissions by 2030, and in June Beijing submitted a formal pledge on carbon reduction to the U.N. The central government has also promised to punish local officials for decisions that negatively impact the environment.

President Xi and President Obama are expected to build on the earlier pledges to curb greenhouse gas emissions during Xi’s U.S. summit next week. This week, negotiators from both countries met in Los Angeles at the U.S-China Climate Leaders Summit, highlighting local government moves needed to reach earlier stated goals. Lydia O’Connor reports at The Huffington Post:

This week’s meeting underscores the importance of local actions by cities, states and provinces to meeting those needs. Climate policy experts say local buy-in is a crucial element to tackling climate change on national scale.

“While both countries have adopted aggressive national targets and policies, implementation must ultimately occur at the local level,” Joanna Lewis, an associate professor at Georgetown researching energy, environment and innovation in China, told The Huffington Post. “Local level cooperation can help train local government officials on innovative ways to reduce emissions, and can be tailored to the specific circumstances of the region.”

Climate negotiators on Tuesday announced a partnership between 10 cities in China and 10 in California, the U.S. state that has taken the boldest policy steps by far to address climate change. […] [Source]

Amid official action, authorities have shown little sympathy for grassroots environmental activism, and have continued to regulate public discussion of the issue. In March, Chai Jing’s viral film “Under the Dome” was quickly ordered offline, and online discussion of the documentary forbidden. Also in March, several environmental activists were detained for calling on the government to increase anti-pollution measures.


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