In a boost for hopes to curb climate change, China's greenhouse gas emissions will probably peak in 2025, five years earlier than its stated target, a study said Monday. On current trends, the world's biggest carbon emitter will discharge 12.5-14 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) in 2025, after which emissions will decline, it said. The work was carried out by two research institutes at the London School of Economics (LSE). "This finding suggests it is increasingly likely that the world will avoid global warming of more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels," they said in a statement.
The average temperature goal, which translates into 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, is the upper limit targeted by the U.N., which is seeking to enshrine it in a global accord in December. "Analyzing trends in the key emitting sectors, we conclude that China's greenhouse gas emissions are unlikely to peak as late as 2030, the upper limit set by President Xi Jinping in November 2014, and are much more likely to peak by 2025," said the paper, co-authored by climate economist Nicholas Stern and analyst Fergus Green. "They could peak even earlier than that." The report pointed out that Chinese coal consumption fell in 2014 and in the first quarter of 2015, after years of growth that led to severe air pollution in its cities and massive emissions of greenhouse gases. The researchers calculated that China's coal use has reached a "structural maximum" and should plateau over the next five years, while natural gas use grows rapidly.