Hsu quoted in New York Times on question of falling Chinese emissions
A year and a half ago, negotiators from the United States persuaded the Chinese government to commit to a deadline for reversing the growth in greenhouse gas emissions from China.
The Obama administration portrayed the pledge as a major victory because China produces more of the gases that cause global warming than any other country, a quarter of the world’s total. Though the deadline was far off, in 2030, environmentalists said the concession by Beijing was a significant breakthrough in efforts to coordinate a global response to climate change.
Now, some researchers examining recent energy data and the slowing Chinese economy are asking whether emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, are already falling in China — more than a decade earlier than expected.
Other skeptics note that Chinese cities are still growing. More than 55 percent of the population lives in cities now, but the government has set a goal of 60 percent by 2020. Urbanization means more construction and reliance on heavy industry, not to mention increased traffic.
“Most Chinese cities are building out,” and more data on the impact is needed to figure out if carbon emissions have started falling for good, said Angel Hsu, an assistant professor at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.