The paper, released by a mixed group of Chinese and British researchers, states that the European Union’s Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research has probably overestimated the Asian country’s carbon emission due to miscalculation and lack of reliable data, with emissions in the country being actually 14 per cent less than the organization stated in 2013.
This example, cited by lead researcher Zhu Liu, proves the unreliable nature of such information and the lack of accuracy in studying China’s pollution level, as the government practices extreme secrecy with such information and usually denies requests from environmental organization to take measurements.
At the same, even with the 14 per cent adjustment China remains the world’s biggest CO2 emitter, with most of it coming from the still heavily coal-reliant Chinese industry, and also from the intense burning of other fossil fuels. The study is the first to use real coal readings throughout the entire country.
“For most of the developed countries, coal has been comprehensively washed but in China the process is not so comprehensive”, says study lead author Zhu Liu of Harvard University. “At the beginning of the project we thought that the emissions might be higher [than current estimates]”.
The difference between the past readings and those from the study stands in the fact that official EDGAR readings had a standard quality of coal as a basis – but when the researchers studied coal samples from over four thousand Chinese state-owned mines, they found that its quality was actually lower – meaning that they actually release less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Even at these adjusted rates though, China remains by far the world’s largest carbon dioxide emitter, releasing more CO2 than the entirety of Europe and Central Asia combined. It also makes for over 90 per cent of emissions in the Eastern Asia and the Pacific area; according to 2012 statistics, it releases almost 8.3 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year.
At this rate, accurate readings of what is largely considered as the world’s largest polluter become of paramount importance, but the difficult part is in convincing the country’s government to cooperate. The Chinese government has long been wary of addressing its glaring pollution issues, as its industry is the backbone of its economy and environmental regulations would probably slow it down.
Image Source: WThe Guardian