Greenhouse gas emissions in China in 2011 increased to their highest level since data began being collected by network stations in 1990, according to China’s first Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.
Electricity generated from clean energy resources in China rose 28.5 percent year on year in 2012 as the country moved to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels in its energy structure.
China generated 1.07 trillion kilowatt hours (kwh) of electricity from clean energy resources, accounting for 21.4 percent of the country’s total electricity output, the State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC) said Tuesday.
The share represents an increase of 3.9 percentage points from a year earlier, the SERC said in a statement.
Solar power generated in 2012 soared 414.4 percent year on year to 3.5 billion kwh while wind power jumped 35.5 percent to 100.4 billion kwh, according to the statement.
Hydropower grew 29.3 percent to 864.1 billion kwh and nuclear power went up 12.6 percent to 98.2 billion kwh.
China aims to increase the shares of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption and installed power generating capacity to 11.4 percent and 30 percent, respectively, by the end of 2015.
The bulletin, released by the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) on Monday, showed carbon dioxide levels measured at 392.2 parts per million at Waliguan station in Qinghai Province. This was a peak since the station began operating in 1990.
The figures, revealed in Shenyang, capital of northeast China’s Liaoning Province, are also slightly higher than the global averages in all greenhouse gas components including atmospheric carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.
The bulletin indicates a sign of the government’s improving transparency in facing environmental issues, said Duan Yihong, head of the China Meteorological Academy of Sciences.
According to Duan, data on greenhouse gas levels in 2012 can be expected soon, as the government is determined to publish the bulletin annually.
He said greenhouse gas emissions, which are a cause of the persistent smog currently enveloping the north of China, are mainly produced through burning of fossil fuel and biomass.
“In addition to industrial emissions, automobile exhausts and coal burning for winter heating are two major contributors to the suffocating smog,” he said.
The bulletin showed that the annual averaged greenhouse gas emissions observed by three regional stations set up in northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, Beijing and eastern Zhejiang Province are all higher than figures collected at the Waliguan station in sparsely populated Qinghai.
The bulletin was based on data collected by seven atmospheric background stations established and operated by the CMA. Four of the stations have been listed in the World Meteorological Organization’s Global Atmosphere Watch Program directory.
Before the China stations were enlisted, the program’s stations were mostly situated in developed countries and regions.
As one of the world’s largest emitters and its second-largest economy,China is playing a constructive role in pushing forward global climate negotiations while doing its bit to keep emissions within targets.
Bi Deli, head of the Low Carbon Development Research Center under the Liaoning Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, described the bulletin as a scientifically composed warning to Chinese governments at all levels on the importance of sustainable low-carbon development.
He said Chinese authorities have realized a green and low-carbon path will be the only choice for the nation’s sustainable development, given its large population, limited resources and vulnerable environment.
Although China’s emissions are rising and may continue to rise until its urbanization peaks, the country has policies in place to limit emissions and is taking steps to boost its renewable energy industries, force power generators to clean up their coal plants and use more clean energy.
China has made a commitment to cut its carbon intensity — the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of GDP — by 40 to 45 percent from the level of 2005 by 2020.
Last year, China more than doubled its solar power generating capacity and increased wind and hydropower capacities. Its current five-year plan includes ambitions to increase the proportion of energy from non-fossil fuels to 11.4 percent by 2015.