China’s CO2 emissions in the second quarter of 2023 recovered to record levels in 2021

While other countries are trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, China’s air pollution is increasing. According to a new analysis by Carbon Brief, in Q2 2023, China’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions increased by 10% year-on-year and were about 1% above the record levels recorded in 2021.

Carbon Brief’s analysis, based on official figures and commercial data, shows that the increase was driven by two factors.

First, the comparison is made with the second quarter of 2022, when emissions were still “suppressed” due to quarantine measures in Shanghai and other regions of China.

Second, the ongoing drought has led to a sharp decline in the productivity of China’s cascade of powerful hydroelectric power plants.

Without these factors, China’s emissions would likely have stabilized. But no one can guarantee that there will be no other surprises in 2024.

China also continues to invest heavily in the construction of coal-fired power plants and steelmaking facilities. Much of the construction is to be completed during the 15th Five-Year Plan (2026-2030), when China has promised to reduce coal consumption.

On the other hand, China is also actively investing in wind power and solar power plants. If the growth in low-carbon capacity meets forecasts, it will be enough to cover the expected increase in electricity demand and may even put China on track to reach peak emissions within two years.