World Emissions May Peak Amid China Green Push, Germanwatch Says

Global carbon-dioxide emissions from energy may peak this decade because of China’s efforts to cut pollutants, Bonn-based research group Germanwatch said.

China, which accounted for about four-fifths of the growth in annual CO2 emissions in 2002-2012, is adding renewable power and boosting energy efficiency as it expands climate-protection measures, Germanwatch Director Christoph Bals said today in Warsaw. “There is a real opportunity and possibility that there is a plateau or peak of global emissions in this decade.”

China’s government, seeking to tackle the pollution that’s choking Beijing and other cities, is increasingly promoting cleaner-burning natural gas, as well as wind and solar energy, to produce electricity and reduce carbon emissions. While the country remains the world’s largest consumer of coal, growth in use of the fuel is slowing.

China is ranked 46th on Germanwatch’s Climate Change Performance Index, which ranks the world’s 58 biggest emitters. Denmark tops the index, followed by the U.K. and Portugal, mainly because of their efforts to expand renewable energies and increase efficiency.

While China’s progress sparks “hope,” the world’s climate-protection policies remain insufficient to keep global warming since industrialization to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), according to Wendel Trio, director of CAN Europe, a network of environmental non-governmental organizations.

Europe Standstill

Europe is “facing a standstill” on climate policy because nations have already achieved much of the emissions cuts they agreed to under their reduction targets, Trio said today in Warsaw, where climate envoys from about 190 nations are gathered to lay the groundwork for a 2020 emissions treaty.

The risk to humans from climate change was emphasized in the runup to this year’s talks by the devastation wrought in the Philippines by Typhoon Haiyan. Climate scientists have warned that global warming will intensify natural disasters.

Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, dropped 11 places to 19th in the Climate Change Performance Index, mainly because of its opposition to climate and environmental policies at the European Union level and its rising use of coal, Trio said.

Producers of the fuel, among the dirtiest used for power generation, “must change rapidly and dramatically” to avoid the worst effects of climate change, Christiana Figueres, the United Nations’ top climate official, said today in Warsaw.

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