China reveals official greenhouse gas emission figures for first time
China on Tuesday officially revealed for the first time the amount of greenhouse gases it emits, as a UN official warned it could be the source of even more harmful emissions with its rapid development.
In a report China is required to submit as a signatory to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, it said it emitted 2.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide, 34.29 million tons of methane and 850,000 tons of nitrous oxide in
Only figures for 1990 or 1994 are currently requested to facilitate comparisons among countries, officials said at a press conference.
More recent emissions figures were not given but are believed to be much higher than those of 1994.
While China's emissions were relatively low per capita compared to other countries given its population of 1.3 billion, the total amount of pollutants makes it the second biggest emitter in the world after the United States.
"The issue is not the number. It's still relatively low per capita, but the volume is increasing rapidly," said Khalid Malik, the UN resident coordinator in Beijing, following the launch of the report, China Initial National Communication on Climate Change.
"China is accelerating rapidly. In the next years, it will become an increasing issue."
As China aims to quadruple its gross domestic by 2020, its energy consumption is expected to rise significantly. The country, meanwhile, still relies on fossil fuel for energy, rather than cleaner sources.
Unlike developed countries, China and other developing countries which have ratified the Kyoto Protocol are not required to reduce by 5.2 percent emissions of six greenhouse gases by 2008-2012 compared with their 1990 levels.
But Malik said China was key to efforts to fight global warming.
"China as the second biggest energy consumer in the world -- accounting for 10 percent of global consumption -- plays a key role in the international arena. ... China's active participation in combating climate change is of crucial importance," he said.
China's report reveals a similar picture to that of many other countries, indicating extreme weather caused by climate change will increase, resulting in more frequent droughts and floods.
Production of major crops could fall and the cost of future agricultural activity go up, it said.
Chinese officials said the government would step up efforts to raise public awareness on reducing emissions, but population growth, urbanization and economic growth would lead to more emissions.
"Greenhouse gas emissions by China will definitely be much higher in the future," said Gao Feng, deputy director-general of the foreign ministry's department of treaty and law.
"With population increase, per capita energy consumption will be higher."
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