China’s Carbon Emissions Drop After a Decade

China’s Carbon Emissions Drop After a DecadeChina’s Carbon Emissions Drop After a Decade

China’s emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide fell last year for the first time in more than a decade, offering fresh evidence that efforts to control pollution in the nation of 1.4 billion people are gaining traction.

Total carbon emissions in the world’s second-biggest economy dropped 2 percent in 2014 compared with the previous year, the first drop since 2001, according to a Bloomberg estimate based on preliminary energy demand data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics.

“Coal demand is slowing” while all other fuels, including oil, gas and renewables, are being consumed more, said Sophie Lu, a Beijing-based analyst at BNEF.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) identified shifting energy consumption in China as among the reasons global carbon dioxide emissions also didn’t rise last year for the first time in 40 years without an economic crisis.

Fatih Birol, IEA’s chief economist, said the drop in global emissions without economic disruption is unparalleled. In the battle to rein in pollution, China has cut its dependence on coal. The nation, the world’s biggest carbon emitter, has also poured money into clean energy sources such as solar, wind and hydro developments.

China led in renewables last year with investments of $89.5 billion, accounting for almost one out of every three dollars spent on clean energy in the world, according to BNEF figures released in January.

China’s coal consumption fell 2.9 percent in 2014 from the previous year. Energy consumption growth also weakened to 3.8 percent in 2014, the lowest since 1998, as the economy expanded at its slowest pace since 1990.

The world’s biggest energy consumer got 11 percent of its primary energy from non-fossil fuels including renewables and nuclear in 2014, up from 9.8 percent a year earlier, the National Energy Administration said on Dec. 31. China is targeting 15 percent of its energy from such fuels by 2020.