China’s Emissions Increased by 1.7% in 2020: Report

China was the only major economy to increase greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 as most of the world experienced an economic contraction due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to research firm Rhodium Group.

China’s emissions grew by 1.7% from the previous year to the equivalent of 14,400 million metric tons of CO2, the group said in a report. Although the country’s economic growth was below its recent annual target, a focus on heavy industry and property construction drove the increase in emissions. Output from the industry and construction sector increased by 2.8%, steel by 7% and cement and coal mining by 2.5% and 1.4% last year, the report said.

While the emissions growth was below the 3.3% average rate in the past decade, it raises concern about the nation’s ability to meet its 2060 carbon neutrality pledge, Rhodium said.

“If 2020 is any indication, it will require a significant departure from the status quo for China to shift away from its current fossil-heavy growth path,” the report said. “There will be increasing scrutiny on China’s plans for the coming decade to ensure that emissions peak as soon as possible.”

The world’s biggest emitter began its weeklong National People’s Congress on Friday, announcing major green targets for its 14th Five Year Plan covering the period 2021 to 2025. In the plan, the first strategic blueprint since last September when Xi Jinping announced the net-zero emission goal, China outlined modest short-term climate goals. The country plans to reduce carbon emissions per unit of gross domestic product by 18% by 2025, the same level it targeted in the previous five-year plan. And a new target to reduce energy use per unit of GDP by 13.5% is lower than the 15% goal in its 13th Five Year Plan.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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