Growth in CO2 emissions leaves China likely to miss climate targets

(The Guardian, 22 Feb 2024) Carbon intensity of the country’s economy remains high, despite rapid improvements in clean energy output.

China is off track on all of its core 2025 climate targets, despite the fact that clean energy is now the biggest driver of the country’s economic growth, analysis has found.

After years of extraordinarily rapid growth, China is now grappling with a slowdown that is causing ripples internally and internationally. The government has supercharged the growth of the renewable energy industry but it has simultaneously poured stimulus funds into construction and manufacturing, and continues to approve coal power.

China’s total energy consumption increased by 5.7% in 2023, in the first moment since 2005 that demand for energy grew faster than its GDP. China’s economy grew by 5.2% last year, a rate that would be rapid for most countries but is slow in comparison with previous rates of growth.

But carbon dioxide emissions have continued to grow, even as economic growth has slowed due to the fact that China’s economic growth during and after the Covid-19 pandemic has been highly energy intensive. Between 2021 and 2023, CO2 emissions grew at an average of 3.8% a year, up from 0.9% a year between 2016 and 2020. GDP growth slowed slightly over the same period.

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The Guardian, 22 Feb 2024: Growth in CO2 emissions leaves China likely to miss climate targets