Emissions of carbon dioxide (COtwo) from China, a champion in this type of pollution, may begin to fall consistently for the first time from next year onwards amid investments in sustainable energy, according to a study by the European organization Center for Research in Energy and Clean Air (Crea), which monitors the sector.
In the third quarter of this year, however, emissions rose 4.7% and broke a record in relation to the same period in previous years, according to data released now, amid the country’s economic recovery this year after the end of Covid policy limitations. zero, ended at the end of last year, which closed entire regions at the slightest sign of the virus spreading.
From 2024 onwards, however, the drop in emissions should be driven mainly by the record increase this year in new low-carbon energy plants, especially wind and solar, according to the research.
Solar power plants installed in China in 2023 alone are expected to generate 210 gigawatts of power in the country next year, twice the capacity of the United States and four times what the Chinese themselves were able to do in 2020. Furthermore, amid the record drought in the country in 2022 and 2023, hydraulic power generation should increase again next year.
Taken together, the study predicts that just the new clean energy plants installed this year will meet a consumption of 423 terawatt-hours (TWh) per year, which is equivalent to the total consumption of France. In Brazil, energy consumption per year in 2022 was 680 TWh, according to Our World in Data, linked to the University of Oxford. In China, with 1.4 billion people, 8,839 TWh.
The pace of expansion of clean energy is already greater than demand, which should sustain the drop in carbon emissions, as energy generation is the second largest source of pollutants in the country, behind only industrial activity, according to the search.
“If this pace is maintained, or accelerated, it would mean that China’s electricity generation from fossil fuels would enter a period of structural decline,” says Lauri Myllyvirta, author of the study.
The study also highlights the increase in investment in industries with low-carbon technology, as well as in electric vehicles and solar batteries.
“The announcement of the 2060 carbon neutrality target sent a political signal, but broader macroeconomic conditions have provided low-carbon capacity growth far beyond policymakers’ goals and expectations,” says the researcher.
He states that the restriction on the real estate sector that the country began to promote in 2020 caused a hole in the finances of local governments, which sought new opportunities in other areas. At the same time, the regime made it easier for private companies to raise money on the financial market and in banks, to stimulate the economy during the pandemic.
“The low-carbon energy sector, in contrast to fossil fuels and traditional heavy industries, is largely made up of private companies. Access to credit had previously been a major obstacle for them in a financial system that heavily favored state-owned companies”, says Myllyvirta.
“As a result, much of the bank lending and investment that was previously directed toward the real estate sector is now being directed toward the manufacturing industry, particularly clean technology manufacturing and clean technology implementation,” he says. All this while costs were falling, amid technological development, and subsidies for clean energy were increasing.
It will not be the first drop in emissions in the country, which has previously recorded occasional decreases in pollutants. This century, there was a reduction in three years: in 2015 and 2016, amid the country’s economic slowdown; and in 2022, during the zero tolerance policy for Covid, which affected important regions such as Shenzhen.
Before the reduction of pollutants begins, however, the movement for now is the opposite. The year 2023 has seen an increase in emissions, and the third quarter was a record, with 3.2 billion tons of COtwo and an increase of 4.7% in the year to date compared to the same period in 2022.
According to Myllyvirta, the increase was “predictable”, with greater demand for oil, which is already at pre-Covid levels. In addition, the government continued to allow the exploration of new coal mines that will produce at least another 25 gigawatts of power in the third quarter, according to the study.
According to the regime’s Research and Development Center, the energy production capacity from coal sources, currently at 1,141 gigawatts, is expected to grow until it reaches 1,370 gigawatts in 2030.