China carbon emissions exceeded OECD total in 2019 -research

SHANGHAI, May 6 (Reuters) - China’s annual greenhouse gas emissions stood at 27% of the world total in 2019, exceeding combined OECD emissions for the first time, according to research published on Thursday.

The Rhodium Group, a U.S.-based think tank, said China’s emissions in 2019 reached more than 14 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent, more than triple its level in 1990.

Final data for 2020 is not available, the group said, but it estimated China’s emissions rose by 1.7% last year, as those from the rest of the world declined due to COVID-19.

China does not issue regular data about how much it emits. Its most recent carbon “inventory” submitted to the United Nations in 2019 showed annual emissions had grown to 12.3 gigatonnes by 2014, up 53% in a decade.

China has vowed to bring total emissions to a peak before 2030 and to become “carbon neutral” by 2060, although it has continued to rely on carbon-intensive heavy industry and infrastructure to drive growth.

While China is now the source of more than a quarter of annual global greenhouse gases, its cumulative emissions are still far below those of other developed countries. Since the start of the industrial revolution, its emissions for fossil fuel combustion and cement production alone are about a quarter of an estimated OECD total of 900 gigatonnes.

China’s per capita emissions also reached 10.1 tonnes in 2019, close to the OECD average of 10.5 tonnes, and are expected to have overtaken the OECD last year, the Rhodium Group said.

The United States in 2019 produced a per capita average of 17.6 tonnes, the world’s highest.

China is expected to announce more ambitious climate pledges this year. Nonetheless, President Xi Jinping told a climate leaders summit last month that China will not start to cut coal consumption until 2026. (Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Tom Hogue)