China's greenhouse emissions rise 2.6% in 2019: research group

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s greenhouse gas emissions rose 2.6% in 2019 despite a fall in the share of coal in the country’s energy mix, driven by a rise in energy consumption and greater use of oil and gas, a research group said on Wednesday.

Total greenhouse gas emissions in China last year were estimated at 13.92 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, the Rhodium Group, an independent research firm said.

The annual growth rate is slightly lower than the 2010-2019 average of 3% and well below the average 9.2% increase over 2000-2009, Rhodium said.

China has been looking to cut its reliance on coal in order to fulfill its commitment to cap carbon emissions by around 2030, by promoting gas-fired heating in winter and boosting power consumption from renewable energy.

Although coal’s share of primary energy in China fell by 1.5 percentage points to 57.7% in 2019 from a year earlier, the amount of coal used still rose 1% as total energy consumption grew 3.3% to 4.86 billion tonnes of standard coal equivalent, according to China’s statistic bureau.

A significant increase in oil and gas consumption accounted for about 60% of the increase in energy carbon dioxide emissions over 2019, Rhodium said. The share of natural gas in China’s total energy mix has risen to over 8% in 2019 from 4% in 2010.

For 2020, Rhodium warned that economic stimulus efforts aimed at mitigating the impact of the coronavirus outbreak would create uncertainties around China’s carbon reduction and its fulfillment of climate commitments.

“If Beijing responds with a large property and construction-heavy stimulus package, the resulting increase in cement and steel production could increase carbon intensity,” the group said.

Reporting by Muyu Xu and David Stanway; editing by Richard Pullin