Revised estimates of coal use in China, 2000-2014. The sharp upward revision in official figures means that China has released much more carbon dioxide — almost a billion more tons a year according to initial calculations — than previously estimated. Graphic: The New York Times

[cf. Peak Coal in China? Not so fast –Des]

By Tom Phillips, with additional reporting by Luna Lin
4 November 2015

(Beijing) – China, the world’s largest carbon emitter, has been dramatically underreporting the amount of coal it consumes each year, it has been claimed ahead of key climate talks in Paris.

Official Chinese data, reported by the New York Times on Wednesday after being quietly released earlier this year, suggests China has been burning up to 17% more coal each year than previously disclosed by the government.

The revelation – which may mean China has emitted close to a billion additional tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year – could complicate the fight against global warming ahead of the United Nations climate change conference in Paris, which begins on 30 November.

In 2012 China consumed 600m more tonnes of coal – or more than 70% of the United States’ annual total – than previously disclosed, according to the revised data.

China’s national bureau of statistics did not immediately confirm the report. However, speaking at a coal conference in Beijing, an adviser to the natural resources defence council said: “The new figures are more accurate than before.”

Zhou Fengqi, the adviser, told AFP the updated figures “more accurately reflect the situation”.

Yang Fuqiang, a former Chinese energy official who advises the Natural Resources Defense Council in the US, told the New York Times: “This will have a big impact, because China has been burning so much more coal than we believed.”

“It turns out that it was an even bigger emitter than we imagined. This helps to explain why China’s air quality is so poor, and that will make it easier to get national leaders to take this seriously.” [more]

China underreporting coal consumption by up to 17%, data suggests


The Haizhou coal mine in Fuxin, in northeastern China, was shut down at the end of 2014. Chinese leaders want the country's emissions to stop growing by 2030. Photo: Xiao Lu Chu / Getty Images

By Chris Buckley
3 November 2015

BEIJING (The New York Times) – China, the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases from coal, has been burning up to 17 percent more coal a year than the government previously disclosed, according to newly released data. The finding could complicate the already difficult efforts to limit global warming.

Even for a country of China’s size, the scale of the correction is immense. The sharp upward revision in official figures means that China has released much more carbon dioxide — almost a billion more tons a year according to initial calculations — than previously estimated.

The increase alone is greater than the whole German economy emits annually from fossil fuels.

Officials from around the world will have to come to grips with the new figures when they gather in Paris this month to negotiate an international framework for curtailing greenhouse-gas pollution. The data also pose a challenge for scientists who are trying to reduce China’s smog, which often bathes whole regions in acrid, unhealthy haze. […]

The new data, which appeared recently in an energy statistics yearbook published without fanfare by China’s statistical agency, show that coal consumption has been underestimated since 2000, and particularly in recent years. The revisions were based on a census of the economy in 2013 that exposed gaps in data collection, especially from small companies and factories.

Illustrating the scale of the revision, the new figures add about 600 million tons to China’s coal consumption in 2012 — an amount equivalent to more than 70 percent of the total coal used annually by the United States.

It’s been a confusing situation for a long time,” said Ayaka Jones, a China analyst at the United States Energy Information Administration in Washington. She said the new data vindicated her earlier analysis of China’s preliminary statistics, which flagged significantly increased numbers for coal use and overall energy consumption. […]

Chinese energy and statistics agency officials did not respond to faxed requests for comment on the data revisions. [more]

China Burns Much More Coal Than Reported, Complicating Climate Talks

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