Slow growth helps put Beijing's carbon intensity goal back on track

Top climate negotiator credits Beijing's energy policies with biggest drop since per-unit goal set

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 December, 2012, 3:31am


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China's top climate negotiator said the mainland's carbon emissions for each unit of economic growth are expected to fall by 5 per cent this year, the biggest drop since it laid out a carbon intensity goal to curb greenhouse gases three years ago.

Speaking on the sidelines of United Nations climate talks in Doha, Qatar, on Monday, Xie Zhenhua, also a deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, said the mainland had cut carbon intensity by 3.4 per cent in the first nine months, thanks to increased energy efficiency and renewable energy gains.

But energy experts said this year's prolonged economic slowdown was probably a major contributor to the significant drop in carbon intensity.

Dr Yang Fuqiang, a senior energy adviser at the Natural Resources Defense Council's office in Beijing, said that weak global demand had led to a contraction in the export sector and reduced output of energy-intensive products.

"The external economic situation has contributed at least 50 to 60 per cent to this year's carbon intensity drop," Yang said. He said the last time the mainland registered a similar cut was in 2008, when it was hit hard by the global financial crisis.

Lin Boqiang , director of Xiamen University's China Centre for Energy Economics Research, said measures to shift away from an energy-intensive growth model would not have taken effect so quickly.

China fell short of the annual goal of reducing carbon intensity by 3.5 per cent last year, recording a drop of a little more than 2 per cent. Still, its total carbon emissions rose by 9.9 per cent last year and accounted for 28 per cent of global emissions, according to a new report by the Global Carbon Project, released on Monday.

A separate report from the International Energy Agency said in May that China's carbon emissions grew by 9.3 per cent last year.

The central government has refused to provide an update of the mainland's carbon footprint since 1994 and has rejected binding emissions caps for fear they would hurt the economy.