November 02, 2008
China Carbon Emissions Might Double By 2030

China's increase in carbon dioxide emissions over the next 20 years will exceed current US emissions.

By 2020, China's burning of fossil fuels could annually emit carbon dioxide equal in mass to 2.5 billion metric tonnes of pure carbon and up to 2.9 billion tonnes, depending on varying scenarios for development and technology, the new report states. By 2030, those annual emissions may reach 3.1 billion tonnes a year and up to 4.0 billion tonnes.

That compares with global carbon emissions of about 8.5 billion tonnes in 2007.

...The U.S. Oak Ridge National Laboratory estimated that the United States emitted about 1.6 billion tonnes of carbon in 2007, compared to China's 1.8 billion tonnes.

I expect Peak Oil will cut into the rate of growth of Chinese CO2 emissions. But most Chinese emissions come from burning coal, not from oil. In fact, the International Atomic Energy Agency estimates that as of 2003 77.1% of China's CO2 emissions came from coal. Almost 9% of China's CO2 emissions come from cement. That puts coal and cement together at 86% of Chinese carbon emissions meaning that little of current emissions comes from oil. But how much of this projected surge in Chinese CO2 emissions is projected to come from oil? If most of it is from oil then I do not expect most of the CO2 emissions surge to happen. World oil production will be way down by 2030.

On the bright side, declining costs of solar photovoltaics and wind farms should cut into the demand for coal to generate electricity. But our problem is that coal power plants last a long time and so solar's price has to fall lower than the fuel cost of a coal plant to shut down existing coal electric plants.

"The problem is that power plants, once built, are meant to last for 40 to 75 years," Carson said. "Our forecast incorporates the fact that much of China is now stuck with power plants that are dirty and inefficient."

If it turns out that increased CO2 concentrations cause a large warming effect then we will likely need to do climate engineering. Though maybe technological advances will make photovoltaics very cheap by the 2020s. Or maybe China's dwindling coal reserves might put a limit on their rate of coal consumption.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 November 02 06:14 PM  Pollution Trends


Comments
Jake said at November 2, 2008 6:34 PM:

Not to worry. Obama promised the San Francisco Chronicle to bankrupt the coal industry and skyrocket our energy costs when he becomes President.

aa2 said at November 2, 2008 8:37 PM:

From wikipedia questions;

Carbon dioxide forms approximately 0.04% of the Earth's atmosphere.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_flux#Concentration


Even if it doubled it won't make any difference to temperature. Doubling it would rise all the way to 0.08% of the atmosphere. On the other hand we are seeing the very real impact of carbon restrictions in the collapsing economies of Western Europe. For example the UK which aggressively chased industry out of the country and substituted it with finance and debt.

Mike O said at November 3, 2008 7:54 AM:

Don't worry; all that coal will get used. By others:

http://politicalinquirer.com/2008/10/07/obamaomics-vs-mccainonomics/

Phil said at November 3, 2008 8:14 AM:

Even if it doubled it won't make any difference to temperature.

What is the basis of this claim?

Don't get me wrong, I am very skeptical of the global warming chicken little types, but I want to to see the debate informed by facts, and a careful anlysis of true costs and benefits.

A simple assertion that doubling would simply bring the concentration to .08% says nothing about the impact on temperature.

DensityDuck said at November 3, 2008 9:43 AM:

Phil: This is the part where you link to scientific studies using ACTUAL DATA and VERIFIED MODELS to show that .08% carbon-dioxide will cause significant climate changes.

Shannon Love said at November 3, 2008 11:38 AM:

But our problem is that coal power plants last a long time and so solar's price has to fall lower than the fuel cost of a coal plant to shut down existing coal electric plants.

Uh, no, the problem is that solar power cannot replace coal plants at all. Coal plants produce power around the clock. Solar power does not. Coal plants produce power in all types of weather. Solar power does not. Coal plants can increase power output on demand. Solar power cannot. Coal plants can be located anywhere. Solar power only works in a narrow part of the country. Coal plants go offline on schedule. Solar power goes off line with the predictability of weather. Coal produces great gobs of concentrated power that you can run factories with. Solar produces just a trickle.

Until we can come up with some currently unforeseen method of storing and transporting solar power, it and wind power remain jokes. (and not very funny ones at that).

The only bright spot is that China's carbon footprint may not increase as much as feared because they plan to build a large number of nuclear plants. China will have power for her factories while our factories will shutdown over night or when the wind die down.

JoeKing said at November 3, 2008 11:53 AM:

Phil: This is the part where you link to scientific studies using ACTUAL DATA and VERIFIED MODELS to show that .08% carbon-dioxide will cause significant climate changes.


Well, now that capital case ACTUAL DATA & VERIFIED MODELS have been invoked into the discussion...I'm convinced. Problem is there AREN'T verified models that irrefutably prove there will DEFINITELY be global warming..oops..Climate change if the carbon dioxide levels increase. Are they now predicting 750ppm by 2030?

Why can't alarmists realize the implausibility of the concept of (EVEN) going from .04 to .08% CO2 DRASTICALLY changing the climate just strikes some of us as ridiculous...and all the "computer modeling" so far (that leaves out numerous data) & a few months/years later prove incorrect & need to be re-adjusted to fit actual events; invite skepticism?

Randall Parker said at November 4, 2008 5:57 PM:

DensityDuck,

The atmosphere and weather and climate are so incredibly complex that our forecasting ability is limited. Should we therefore relax and say "since we can't prove anything bad is going to happen we must be safe from big future climate changes"?

I mean, we really are making a big change to the atmosphere. aa2's comment about what percentage of the atmosphere C02 makes it is really besides the point. Substances in small concentrations can have big effects because different small molecules have very different (and quite easily measurable) different physical and chemical properties.

I'm not advocating that we impose costs on ourselves so large that our economy shrinks. But I'm also not ready to be carefree about the prospect of doubling atmospheric CO2. Once it is up there it is really hard to get it back if we find it causes problems.

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