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Climate change in China - statistics & facts

The global carbon dioxide emissions per capita had generally increased from 4.16 metric tons to 4.7 metric tons in 2019, with fluctuations in between. Along with other greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, scientists reported an increase in surface temperature of the planet at around 0.9 Celsius degrees warmer in 2020 than the average in the twentieth century. While some countries experienced increasingly warm weather, the climate in some other countries became more extreme, with example in terms of higher frequency of natural catastrophes. The Americas and Asia were the continents that bore 88 percent of the economic damage caused by natural disasters in 2020.

China is the largest emitter of CO2

Since the last decade when China surpassed the United States as the largest carbon dioxide emitter in the world, the emission of China continued to surge, exceeding ten billion metric tons in 2019. However, when it comes to emission per capita, countries like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates ranked top on the list, at over twice or even thrice that of China. As a developing country, China was excluded in a few binding international agreements regarding the reduction of carbon emission, such as the famous Kyoto protocol. But with Chinese citizens also starting to experience environmental degradation and hence a growing concern over the quality of the environment in China, the Chinese government had introduced policy instruments to cope with the issue. For instance, in the "Made in China 2025" strategic plan, China planned to reduce the carbon emission intensity by 22 percent by 2020 and 40 percent by 2025, along with other parameters such as water usage and industrial energy intensity.

Decreasing trend in other emissions

Aside from growth in carbon dioxide emission, emission of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide as well as soot (dust) in China had decreased in the last few years. Sulphur dioxide emission in China peaked around 2005 to 2006 at around 25 million tons nationwide, which had been gradually decreasing until finally fall under nine million tons in 2017. Similar trends were observed for nitrogen oxide and soot emission in China.


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