In 2014, Obama administration officials went to China to convince its government to pledge to reverse its growth in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. That gave the country about 15 years or so to make good on its promise, but despite the seemingly lenient deadline China had, U.S. officials saw it as a successful endeavor on their part, as China produces about a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gases. But what could be more successful is how China has performed so far in reversing the growth in these emissions.
A study claims that China’s carbon dioxide emissions are already on their way down, meaning it took just one and a half year for the country to make good on its pledge. Experts believe this is a great sign in the world’s broader initiatives to slow and eventually stop climate change. Currently, world government officials are trying to limit global warming to just 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above temperatures before the industrial age. But if China really did slow down its CO2 production, that could motivate the United States and other countries to up the ante and set loftier goals in combating climate change.
However, there are some problems with the study’s claim that carbon dioxide emissions are finally slowing, instead of increasing in China. As scientists extract emissions figures from energy data, they are only able to give educated guesses. And there has also been a paper published in March by the journal Nature Climate Change that claims China’s energy data is mostly unreliable, and that the “most easily available data is often insufficient for estimating emissions.”
Skeptics have also warned that China’s continued industrialization might make the purported greenhouse gas figures a false dawn. “Most Chinese cities are building out,” said Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies assistant professor Angel Hsu. She added that there definitely needs to be more data gathered to prove whether China’s carbon emissions are really on their way down on a more permanent basis.