The long-awaited peak in China’s carbon emissions may have already happened

Posted by K R on

China’s rapid industrialization was accompanied by massive carbon emissions, rising year after year. Until now. Maybe.

According to research from the London School of Economics, China’s emissions have slowed, and may now be falling in absolute terms, thanks to lower economic growth and the results of past efforts to reduce the carbon intensity of growth.

“It is quite possible that emissions will fall modestly from now on, implying that 2014 was the peak,” write Fergus Green and Nicholas Sterns in a paper due to be published in the journal Climate Policy later this month. “If emissions do grow above 2014 levels… that growth trajectory is likely to be relatively flat, and a peak would still be highly likely by 2025.”

Emissions data are collected in five-year chunks, hence the ambiguity about the peak:

china-carbon-chart

The reversal has huge implications for the world’s climate. China’s GDP growth averaged 10.5% per year between 2000 and 2010. Heavy industry boomed in that time, gobbling up energy and accounting for an outsize share of the economy. Growth has slowed to 7-8% in recent years, with an official target of 6.5-7% this year.

Read More: Quartz

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