Posted by: Dr Churchill | June 13, 2012

China’s Emissions Cliff

CO2 Emissions measurement and verification of the numbers the various industrialized nation submit in world body negotiations, have been a contentious point of diplomacy and one that has prevented us from reaching a global agreement on CO2 releases.

All world diplomatic negotiations during all the United Nations Climate Change discussions were bedeviled by the emissions cliff.

Different numbers have been reported by nations, industry and world bodies according to the special interest these figures represent.

Whereas according to the Environmental Parliament the true numbers vary greatly from the official estimates for all developed nations.

Underreporting is the norm across the world. Yet with open societies, and transparent accounting systems, there are easy ways, thereby we can reconcile projections and estimates with reality. This is not the case with closed and underreporting societies and economies.

And as it turns pout, this issue is the big elephant in the room… causing mistrust and the eventual failure in negotiations.

And as long as I can remember, all of the COP negotiations that have been taking place for the last two decades have left this big elephant in the room untouched, unspoken for and unaccounted…

The Emissions reporting cliff and the veracity of the national CO2 numbers, are again key ingredients of disagreement for the Rio meetings this month remaining unspoken and yet generating distrust and ill feeling as they silently pervade the atmosphere here.

And at the dead centre of the debate about emissions, here come the Chinese unreliable Co2 emission numbers.

Because there’s a cliff  in China’s declared carbon emissions according to recent proper accounting procedural evidence.

When researchers added up the emissions declared by each of the 30 provinces in 2010, they found the total was far greater than what the country declared as a whole.

Greater by the equivalent of 1.4 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.

That’s the same amount that Japan – the world’s fourth biggest emitter – pumps into the atmosphere each year, and amounts to about 5 per cent of annual global emissions.

That’s a cliff the size of K2 in Everest of unreported Carbon Emissions emanating from China’s industrial powerhouse…

Yet the end result is still unclear because some of it is due to accounting error. Maybe up to a 3% of the total unreported emissions. And still some of this is due to the provinces over-declaring, or the national agency under-declaring. But the total of that discrepancy is far too mall still.

So the cliff remains the size of Everest and in emissions standards, the size of CO2 unreported from China equals that of all Japanese emissions combined. A huge number indeed.

Some mitigation exists because the provincial authorities report economic outputs to appear to be performing better, but then have to report their energy consumption data to match. On the other hand, national policies of improving energy efficiency put downward pressure on the country-wide statistics.

Still the message is clear and now we are planning to have satellite measurements of CO2 in order to be able to measure accurately the Carbon emitted by each nation in a reliable and scientifically unassailable way in order to speed things us in our Climate negotiations.




Until we correct this problem on the national as well as on the industrial level, we are doomed to mistrust each other, making it really hard if not impossible to reach a common global climate deal.

Simple as that…

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: