China's carbon emissions account for a quarter of the worldwide total. Researchers said its carbon emissions may have peaked already and this could impact the global effort to fight climate change.
Less than two years ago, the United States urged the Chinese government to commit to a 2030 deadline to reverse its increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
"The government will use two ways to control CO2 emissions in the next five-year plan, by intensity and an absolute cap," said China's Advisory Committee on Climate Change chairman He Jiankun in 2014.
How This Could Impact Global Efforts To Curb Climate Change
If China is able to curb the emissions of its main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, over a decade before the original deadline, its success can provide much-needed energy to the global efforts aimed at meeting the 2-degree Celsius consensus. This preindustrial level is deemed a challenging task; however, it is critical to curbing the devastating effects of unchecked climate change.
China's success will result in more pressure on other nations, especially on the United States, to meet its own climate change reversal goals. It can also result in the creation of more ambitious goals.
Has China's Carbon Emissions Peaked?
Last month, two British scientists published a study on the Climate Policy journal that indicated China's falling carbon emissions levels after its rapid increase since 2001.
"It is quite possible that emissions will fall modestly from now on, implying that 2014 was the peak," wrote researchers Fergus Greena and Nicholas Sterna. They indicated the potential drop in the use of industrial coal burning, which is the main source of carbon emissions in China.
The country has also released several new policies that reduced the coal use to solve another problem — air pollution. This resulted in the use of substitute energy sources such as nuclear power and hydropower.
These new policies may be enabling China — the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases — to reach its reduction target earlier. This fall, the new set of data can reveal that China's greenhouse gas emission dropped from 1 to 1.5 percent in 2015.
Photo: Xenja Santarelli | Flickr