Photographer: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

China Emissions From Coal Power Likely Fell 2% in 2015

  • Emissions declined faster than expected in 2015, BNEF says
  • Coal being replaced by hydroelectric, wind and solar power

China’s emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide produced from burning coal probably fell 2 percent in 2015 as a result of the reduced use of the fossil fuel in the power sector.

That equates to 144.9 million metric tons of carbon emissions that didn’t enter the atmosphere because of the retreat from coal, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance analysis of data from the China Electricity Council and the National Energy Administration.

Carbon emissions “declined faster than expected” in 2015, said Sophie Lu, a Beijing-based analyst at BNEF. The reduction means ‘China’s work in cutting emissions has taken effect.”

China, the world’s biggest energy consumer, has pledged to cap its emissions around 2030. The nation is seeking to cut coal’s share of its energy consumption, while boosting renewable energy.

Thermal power generation fell 2.8 percent in 2015 from the previous year, indicating a 77 million metric-ton reduction in how much of the fossil fuel was used, according to the BNEF analysis.

Power Consumption

Government figures released earlier this month showed that China’s overall power consumption rose just 0.5 percent last year, slowing from a 3.8 percent advance in the previous 12-month period.

Meanwhile, coal imports fell about 30 percent to the lowest in four years, the biggest drop on record. The decline coincides with slower economic growth and as the composition of the nation’s economic activity shifts toward consumer-led expansion at the same time as the government seeks to curb pollution.

China has cut its use of coal, wiping out 70 million tons of production in 2015. The nation plans to eliminate a further 60 million tons of capacity this year.

In place of coal, the biggest recipient of investments in renewable energy has installed more hydroelectric, wind and solar power.

— With assistance by Feifei Shen

(Clarifies first paragraph to show reduction baseline and corrects fourth paragraph to show thermal power generation fell 2.8% in story originally published Jan. 20.)
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