BEIJING, Nov 14 (Reuters) - China’s total volume of carbon emissions is set to rise by a third in the next 16 years, according to scholars from China’s Tsinghua University, even as the world’s biggest carbon polluter has pledged the climate-warming gas emissions will peak by 2030.
China’s president Xi Jinping announced this week that the country would strive to bring its spiralling carbon emissions to a peak by “around 2030” as part of a joint commitment with the United States to combat global warming.
The two biggest economies and carbon emitters made the statement in Beijing in a joint effort to inject “a shot of momentum” into negotiations for a post-2020 global climate pact, which are due to end in Paris in December next year.
But the Tsinghua scholars said in a report commissioned by think tank Global Commission on the Economy and Climate that Chinese emissions would reach 10.6 billion tonnes by 2030, which is 34 percent higher than the 2012 rate of 7.9 billion tonnes.
China is already the world’s largest carbon emitter, but its status as a developing country means it is under no obligation to promise absolute cuts, a situation that has irked politicians in the United States and other industrialised nations.
Beijing is currently targeting a 40-45 percent cut in carbon intensity - the amount of emissions per unit of GDP growth - by 2020, compared to 2005 levels.
China will also aim to raise the share of zero-carbon sources in its energy mix to 20 percent by 2030, up from around 10 percent now, meaning that the bulk of new demand would have to be met by nuclear and renewables.
The Tsinghua study said coal consumption in China would peak soon and could even fall 6 percent by 2020, based on current demand and economic growth projections.
“The non-fossil fuel target will mostly rely on new nuclear power - without nuclear power the emissions peak will be delayed five to ten years,” Teng Fei, one of the authors of the study, told Reuters.
Even as emissions surge to 10.6 billion tonnes, the per capita amount will remain at less than 8 tonnes, lower than 9.5 tonnes in Japan and the European Union and 22.2 tonnes in the United States, the study said. (Reporting by Kathy Chen and David Stanway; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)