Claim: China has emitted 15% less CO2 than previously estimated

China's burgeoning coal power industry
China’s burgeoning coal power industry

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

China’s estimated total CO2 emissions to date may have to be revised down by 15%, according a study published in Nature, because the coal China is burning is much higher quality than previous calculations assumed.

The abstract of the paper;

Nearly three-quarters of the growth in global carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and cement production between 2010 and 2012 occurred in China. Yet estimates of Chinese emissions remain subject to large uncertainty; inventories of China’s total fossil fuel carbon emissions in 2008 differ by 0.3 gigatonnes of carbon, or 15 per cent. The primary sources of this uncertainty are conflicting estimates of energy consumption and emission factors, the latter being uncertain because of very few actual measurements representative of the mix of Chinese fuels. Here we re-evaluate China’s carbon emissions using updated and harmonized energy consumption and clinker production data and two new and comprehensive sets of measured emission factors for Chinese coal. We find that total energy consumption in China was 10 per cent higher in 2000–2012 than the value reported by China’s national statistics, that emission factors for Chinese coal are on average 40 per cent lower than the default values recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and that emissions from China’s cement production are 45 per cent less than recent estimates. Altogether, our revised estimate of China’s CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production is 2.49 gigatonnes of carbon (2 standard deviations = ±7.3 per cent) in 2013, which is 14 per cent lower than the emissions reported by other prominent inventories. Over the full period 2000 to 2013, our revised estimates are 2.9 gigatonnes of carbon less than previous estimates of China’s cumulative carbon emissions. Our findings suggest that overestimation of China’s emissions in 2000–2013 may be larger than China’s estimated total forest sink in 1990–2007 (2.66 gigatonnes of carbon) or China’s land carbon sink in 2000–2009 (2.6 gigatonnes of carbon).

Read more:

Unfortunately the full study is paywalled, but it would be intriguing to know how much of that “improved” quality estimate is due to the 500 million tons per annum of high quality coal, which Australia exports to China every year, and the millions of tons of high quality coal exported to Asia every year by other producers, such as the USA.

Perhaps greens should be encouraging the USA and Australia to export more coal to China, to help China hold down its CO2 emissions, while China works to replace its annual 2.49 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions, with clean energy from wind turbines.

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Reply to  Lance Wallace
August 19, 2015 4:50 pm

So while the US cut CO2 by 18% by boosting employment to record levels, the Chinese cut CO2 by 15% by having a study published.
So tell me again about the Chinese US climate deal. Anything like the Iran Nukes deal?

Gary Pearse
Reply to  ferdberple
August 19, 2015 6:02 pm

This is part of the deal.

Reply to  ferdberple
August 20, 2015 6:29 am

It does stick out like a dog’s balls, doesn’t it Ferd?

Reply to  ferdberple
August 20, 2015 8:13 am

dunno fred, you really believe the supposed employment hike?
or did you just leave the sarc tag off?

Reply to  Lance Wallace
August 19, 2015 7:28 pm

* * * * * * * * * * *
That sort of thing has made Dyson a villain to the largely Democratic climate-change crowd. But he says plenty of things that would outrage Republicans as well.
Take that deal with Iran to get them to give up the capacity to build a bomb. All 17 GOP presidential contenders oppose that deal. But the physicist who actually worked on nuclear bombs calls it “a great deal.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” he said. “The advantage of this deal is that it sets up an international consensus for changing the situation, which is much more important than the details.”
Equally important, the deal helps the U.S. extricate itself from the Mideast, he said.
I would like the United States to get out of there altogether,” said Dyson. “Having all our soldiers there is not doing us any good.”
* * * * * * * * * *
But it’s good for bloodthirsty, brutal, racist, nuclear Israel.

Louis Hunt
Reply to  Khwarizmi
August 19, 2015 7:47 pm

Does Dyson also think the side deal uncovered and published today by AP is a good deal? It allows Iran to do their own inspections of military sites. What could go wrong?

Reply to  Khwarizmi
August 19, 2015 10:20 pm

But it’s good for bloodthirsty, brutal, racist, nuclear Israel.
But it’s good for bloodthirsty, brutal, racist, nuclear Israel.

Reply to  Khwarizmi
August 19, 2015 10:23 pm

somehow my comment got fzcked up. if Israel has nukes and they are blood thirsty they would have nuked their enemies.
so since theory haven’t, the statement is garbage,

David A
Reply to  Khwarizmi
August 19, 2015 10:28 pm

Nuclear physicist? Makes him an expert in foreign policy how?

Reply to  Khwarizmi
August 20, 2015 9:55 am

You forgot the statement by Dyson’s son:
“Dyson’s son, George, a technology historian, says his father’s views have cooled friendships, while many others have concluded that time has cost Dyson something else. There is the suspicion that, at age 85, a great scientist of the 20th century is no longer just far out, he is far gone — out of his beautiful mind.”

August 19, 2015 3:00 pm

What this study admits is that the alarmists are making up their claims for CO 2 emission, temperatures, etc.
They were only off by 15% while one would be suspicious that this release is timed for the Paris event with a push to claim how China is “reducing” emissions and we need to do likewise.
Can’t believe any claim they make.

August 19, 2015 3:06 pm

And I’m sure that this high quality coal can be bought from the same US mines that Obama’s EPA has hammered, causing their value to fall, and which now are being invested in by George Soros…

Reply to  Severian
August 19, 2015 4:21 pm

What is the difference between high quality coal and low quality coal?

NW sage
Reply to  SMC
August 19, 2015 5:15 pm

The NORMAL difference as used in engineering is measured by the BTU (energy) output per unit mass of the coal in question. Lignite coal – a soft coal very close in composition to compacted moss – is usually low quality/lower energy. Anthracite coal, a ‘hard’ coal is very dense and has lots of carbon which gives it more energy per unit mass. It is usually described as high quality.
If one is burning higher quality coal more carbon is being burned – and more CO2 is produced. From this perspective the claim that this is the supposed reason the CO2 is 15% LESS is absurd on its face!

Michael Jankowski
Reply to  SMC
August 19, 2015 5:37 pm

NW sage, they seem to be making an “emissions factor” estimate (I know, right) and energy consumption estimate, then working backwards to tonnage.
It is true that higher quality coal on a tonnage basis would produce more CO2 than lower quality coal.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  SMC
August 19, 2015 6:06 pm

Gents, you have this backwards. If coal is low BTU, you have to burn a lot more of it to get the same energy. While your burning the low quality you are also getting comparatively poor burning and emissions of carbon soot, sulphur Dioxide, etc are higher.

Reply to  SMC
August 19, 2015 10:24 pm

What is the difference between high quality coal and low quality coal?
about $50 / ton.

James Bull
Reply to  SMC
August 20, 2015 12:12 am

The Germans main coal used for power production is Lignite mined from massive open caste mines, I’m sure they have found a way of burning it as efficiently and cleanly as possible with as little waste and pollution as they can get, Especially as they are going back to it over wind and nuclear.
James Bull

Reply to  SMC
August 20, 2015 4:56 am

As a former coal-plant engineer, daily coal analysis is performed & characteristics such as ash, volatiles, moisture, BTU/lb, etc, are determined and documented. So Chinese plant records should have such data in droves.
The only “explanation” for this I can see is if the volatile component of the coal (the hydrogen component as in methane) was greater than previously recorded. Then some of the energy release is actually from hydrogen burning instead of carbon.
So, did the Chinese simply “adjust” the coal-analysis data?

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Lombok Timur
Reply to  SMC
August 23, 2015 6:27 am

This is a very important question: What is the difference between high and low quality coal? The whole analysis (in the paper) depends on this question and it does not add up.
First, low quality coal has a volatiles content higher than 20% by (dry) mass. The value is arbitrary and has no meaning in itself. High quality coal has a low volatiles content and it might be 5-8% but there is no particular value involved, it is just less than 20%. Volatiles is that part which evaporates at a temperature (in the absence of oxygen) of less than 830 C. What remains is ‘fixed carbon’. These terms are not very scientific but are widely used. The volatile portion also contains some carbon.
Burning lignite does not mean having high emissions of ‘smoke’. A combustor designed for hard coal with low volatiles will make a lot of smoke if it is fed lignite (young coal, up to 50% volatiles). Too much primary air.
Lignite has a higher hydrogen content than hard coal and hydrogen contains a lot of energy. The carbon content of lignite is low(er), so its emission of CO2 per MegaJoule of energy is lower, not higher. This contradicts the claim presented in the article. They claim that the Chinese have been burning ‘higher quality coal’ and so their emissions (presumably of CO2) are lower. This makes no sense if one uses standard definitions. Maybe they mean emissions of ‘smoke’ which they have ‘modelled’. I don’t think so. I think they mean CO2. Coals have to be compared dry and ash-free. The ‘better’ the coal, the greater the carbon fraction.
Higher quality coal means a higher energy density both in terms of low ash content and higher carbon content (because of a lower volatile fraction). By definition, a ‘lower quality coal’ would increase the water vapour emitted and decrease the CO2 emitted per ton burned and per MJ of energy released. This is the opposite of what the article claims.
It is not true that burning a ‘lower quality coal’ is less efficient. It is not true that lower quality coal (as defined) emits more CO2. It is not true that lower quality coal will not burn cleanly and completely. The ash content (which varies a great deal) has very little effect on the efficiency or energy released. Some ash is slightly endothermic, some is exothermic.
There is a good reason why the Germans are building more than 20 lignite powered generating stations: they are going to use a ‘low quality coal’ that has high volatiles: high hydrogen and high oxygen and low carbon (compared with regular or high quality coal). The burners will be designed specifically to handle it.
So be really clear about the claim: burning a ‘low energy coal’ means less heat per kg burned, but that has nothing to do with the CO2 emitted – that depends entirely on the composition of the fuel which might be high in ash, or not. If coal were 50% hydrogen it would have far more energy that being 50% carbon. Lignite is often wet. OK, that means the energy available is lower per transported ton, but fuel is dried using waste heat from the boiler before it is used and the water condensation can be used to dry fuel so that argument carries no water. 🙂
The principal claim that using higher quality coal reduced CO2 emissions is contradicted by the common definitions of terms. Higher quality coal emits more CO2 per unit of heat than low quality coal and always did. Higher quality coal also has a lower CO2max value because it contains so little oxygen which means more dilution by nitrogen in combustion air, and that in turn means a lower temperature flame. Nothing about coal and combustors supports the core claim in the abstract. If they switched to higher quality coal, their CO2 emissions went up.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Lombok Timur
Reply to  SMC
August 23, 2015 6:30 am

If they adjusted the data, it would have been to increase the H2 content to get the CO2/MJ down, which means a higher volatiles content which is by definition is a ‘lower quality’ coal.
The authors can’t have it both ways.

August 19, 2015 3:12 pm

Make up the temperatures, make up the CO2 emissions; what difference, at this point, does it make?

Reply to  H.R.
August 19, 2015 3:56 pm

Apparently very little to the climate reality of the last two decades.

August 19, 2015 3:12 pm

China can’t be made the bad guy. After all, didn’t they agree to reduce CO2 emissions…maybe…starting in 2030? This is pure political speak to make it appear that China is actually part the the AGW bandwagon and nothing more. China must be laughing as they watch the alarmists try to soften China’s environmental image while China couldn’t care less and in fact promote AGW only to reap the industrial benefits that are being given them without any competition.

Lance Wallace
August 19, 2015 3:35 pm

“500 million tons per annum of high quality coal, which Australia exports to China every year…”
According to the link, Australia sent only 25 million tons to China in a recent year. This is about 1% of China’s total production of 2.5 gigatonnes..

Reply to  Lance Wallace
August 19, 2015 10:32 pm

Yep the 500 Mt/yr is way off. Australia only produces ~ 530 Mt (2012-13 latest available) and exports around 340 Mt ( 154 Mt metalurgical, 182 Mt thermal)
World Coal Association indicates China imports around 350 Mt with a production of about 3500 Mt

August 19, 2015 3:42 pm

“The primary sources of this uncertainty are conflicting estimates of energy consumption and emission factors, the latter being uncertain because of very few actual measurements representative of the mix of Chinese fuels”
Really? If there are “very few actual measurements,” how can we believe any reports of CO2 emissions? Until someone devises a CO2 meter, much like a water meter, that can verifiably measure CO2 emissions, why should we believe any reports of CO2 emissions?
Just askin’…

Reply to  PaulH
August 19, 2015 4:57 pm

PaulH: ” Until someone devises a CO2 meter … ”
Here ya go ….
CO2 metering is compulsory in many jurisdictions for monitoring cold stores, eg in hotels, taverns, highly desirable in silo and brewing processes, etc. Affordable from the US supplier above, Big reductions on bulk pricing from Chinese manufacturers, eg Tongdy, Shenzhen Yuante.

NW sage
Reply to  Martin Clark
August 19, 2015 5:17 pm

Don’t forger AliBaba

Reply to  Martin Clark
August 19, 2015 5:56 pm

Also handy if one has a newer well insulated house that has been “wrapped” under the brick facade. It’s amazing how high inside CO2 levels can go on a still day. Some housing is so well insulated that they require expensive air exchangers.

M Courtney
August 19, 2015 3:43 pm

Who cares about the quality of the coal? The power plants will use whatever coal they can get.
So if China is using coal it must be expected that the ‘risk’ of the worse coal is in the pipeline.
Hence I repeat, who cares about the quality of the coal?
Who leaked this to become a paper? Is it China seeking brownie points as the entry ticket to Paris?
Or, perhaps, it is Australia advertising the quality of its coal for other countries going to Paris?

Tom J
Reply to  M Courtney
August 19, 2015 6:43 pm

George Soros, who just manages to fund a lot of left leaning climate causes, has recently bought up significant shares of Peabody Coal now that the share value’s tanked thanks largely to the EPA’s malicious shenanigans.
Does one see exports in the future?

Reply to  Tom J
August 19, 2015 7:46 pm

No. Coal has tanked because fracking has made natural gas so much more economical that the power plans have shifted to natural gas. Their owners and operators aren’t STUPID. The EPA didn’t do antything to coal. Blame it on fracking.

Reply to  M Courtney
August 19, 2015 7:50 pm

“The power plants will use whatever coal they can get.”
Wrong. Plant managers and owners will always find the most cost effective coal that they can lay their hands on, considering all things, including transportation costs.
They aren’t stupid.
You’ve obviously never had any part in running a plant of any kind.

M Courtney
Reply to  Steve Garcia
August 19, 2015 11:54 pm

I think you misunderstood my statement.
And in your misunderstanding you have also confused “quality of coal” with cost effectiveness of coal.
You are right though that plant managers and owners will always seek to use the most cost effective coal that they can lay their hands on.

Reply to  Steve Garcia
August 20, 2015 9:45 pm

Steve is correct I’m afraid. Each power station, at least the furnaces is designed to run most efficiently on a relatively narrow range of coal specifications. Coal outside the particular specs will cause burnouts or burn failure and problems such as slagging and fouling, hence considerable effort is put into defining the characteristics of a coal deposit prior to developing and marketing the coal.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Lombok Timur
Reply to  M Courtney
August 23, 2015 6:39 am

M Courtney
I see the authors trying to change the meaning of ‘high quality’. They are making an impossible claim so there has to be something behind it. If they redefine high quality coal as containing less carbon per MJ than another coal, treating carbon as a ‘pollutant’ or a ‘contaminant’, then the article starts to make thermodynamic sense.
This is the high context Humpty Dumptification of the energy industry: scientific terms take on whatever meaning the speaker needs at the time, according to the circumstances and the capacity of the listener.

Lance Wallace
August 19, 2015 3:44 pm

The supplemental information with detailed tables on China’s coal and cement production, emission factors, etc are here for true aficionados.

August 19, 2015 3:50 pm

Noxious gasses from coal are certainly not good and can be eliminated with up-to-date technology before they enter the atmosphere.
CO2 is not a noxious gas. The readily impressed are fed and buy nonsense that they are one and the same thing.
To these camp followers one word must be reoeated – THINK

Reply to  cnxtim
August 19, 2015 4:20 pm

What do you define as a noxious gas?

Tom J
Reply to  SMC
August 19, 2015 6:44 pm

A gas that is noxious.

Reply to  cnxtim
August 19, 2015 7:43 pm

The “up-to-date technology” you speak of is designed to eliminate what are called VOCs – volatile organic compounds – hydrocarbons and nitrogen compounds like NO and NO2. The existing technology – made up of scrubbers and oxidizers – is not designed to eliminate CO2. (BTW, “oxidizers” is usually a fancy way of saying incinerators.) But some oxidizers are catalytic oxidizers and are not quite incinerators, thought they DO use high temps to aid the catalyzing.
Noxious means poisonous. CO2 IS poisonous – to animals. But it is food to plants.
At the same time, oxygen is poisonous to plants.
Therefore, objectively, oxygen is a noxious gas, too.
The big point about these technologies is that the Clean Air Act mandated them, and EVERY factory and plant (and eventually bakeries, too) in the USA – and then western Europe – was absolutely required to build these to treat their emissions. That is the thing that the warmists conveniently leave out – that we HAVE cleaned up the air!. And it cost many fortunes to do all that cleaning – easily the national budgets of most countries in the world.
And what did we get for all of that money? Nothing but grief. The greens shifted from those VERY REAL pollutants to fake ones – namely CO2. And they used our MEMORY of an unclean atmosphere to harp on and on about how we are so evil and ruining the Earth. And because they did that accusing when the population DID remember, most people think that we still ARE polluting and ruing the atmosphere. But most people didn’t KNOW about all the scrubbers and oxidizers that were installed. They didn’t see them going up, because most of them were well away from the public eye – inside power plants and factories, or on their roofs. Most scrubbers are at the bottom of smoke stacks. When the public is shown smoke stacks, all their attention goes to the top, where what looks like smoke is coming out. But the scrubbers are at the other end – down at the bottom- away from the attention – cleaning the emissions for all they are worth. AND THEY DO.
The public needs to update its thinking, because all the thinking about us destroying the atmosphere is WAAAAAY out of date. It is 1970s and before. But 40 years on, everyone still thinks that we are doing like we did in the first 3/4 of the 20th century. BUT THEY ARE WRONG.
WE TRULY AREN’T ruining the atmosphere. Yes, we used to – but we aren’t anymore. We got smarter. If we HADN’T, the whole world would have air like China’s. But we did, so we don’t.
PERIOD. The technologies WORKED. And still are.
China wants to boost its economy, which is faltering. If they pass a tough Clean Air Act like the USA did, they would create hundreds of thousands of jobs – maybe a couple of million. They need to do it sometime – it might as well be now, when it BUILDS an economy instead of sucking the life out of it.

Reply to  Steve Garcia
August 19, 2015 10:42 pm

True: the lopsided CO2 obsession has masked real unhealthy fine particle emissions from the public. In the West these particles were mostly scrubbed out, but in China etc…..!!!
Thanks IPCC!

Bubba Cow
August 19, 2015 3:54 pm

another adjustment?
If China is less, is US relatively more? Next up – India.

Green Sand
August 19, 2015 4:05 pm

Wow! A who done it? Take no notice of the man behind the curtain.
Gaia’s progress is set from long before our arrival and doesn’t deem our perceived intrusion on her progress even worthy of recognition.
Those that claim the ability to control the temperature of this planet are but arrogant game playing teenagers!
Just hope Gaia does not awake and scratch a minor itch

August 19, 2015 4:25 pm

Now I know why Lake Superior froze over two years in a row.

Sturgis Hooper
August 19, 2015 5:09 pm

The State of Oregon barred export of high quality coal from its ports, ostensibly over fear of the “death trains” hauling the evil black poison to Columbia River ports.

August 19, 2015 5:13 pm

woooo…a whole 15%
uncertainties…estimates…..subject to large uncertainty
Why would anyone bother with science like this?………….SNARK/

Reply to  Latitude
August 19, 2015 7:05 pm

Hey, dude, you don’t know numbers, it seems. 15% off their emissions means that with China being 75% of the world’s increase that it will be 11% off the world’s increase. THAT IS A LOT.
At the same time, CO2 emissions are not proven to actually BE the cause of any warming. It is a conclusion jumped to 30 years ago by a self-selected conference of tree-hugging greens, and one that keeps being parroted. I’ve been waiting for 20 years for them to prove it.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. The alarmists are the ones who made the extraordinary claim, and after they did, they turned science on its head by requiring all rebuttals to be extraordinary rebuttals. Science doesn’t work that way. At least not REAL science. The initial extraordinary claim – no matter how widely believed – has never had its feet held to the fire, never had to prove itself.
Until it does, why should we pay it any attention? (Answer: Because they are the ones who got the government to give them a LOT of money. Billions talk. So we have to put up with it, ad infinitum.)

Steve from Rockwood
August 19, 2015 5:47 pm

Because China uses the crappier brown coal – much more than was assumed – they are producing 15% less CO2 than was thought. Great. Now all the world has to do is convert from high quality coal to crappy coal.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Lombok Timur
Reply to  Steve from Rockwood
August 23, 2015 6:44 am

Quite right Steve. “better coal” gives higher CO2 emissions per anything useful. So…how did they come up with the core explanation?

August 19, 2015 6:01 pm

If less CO2 was required to produce the runaway warming that we witnessed in the last 2 decades, this certainly means that it’s worse than we thought.

Reply to  Michael Palmer
August 19, 2015 6:55 pm

I trust you meant to put a ‘/snarc’ at the end of that…

August 19, 2015 6:17 pm

The attention paid to emissions would be rational only if we could show that human emissions, Chinese or otherwise, are related to changes in atmospheric composition.

Peta in Cumbria
Reply to  Jamal Munshi
August 20, 2015 1:52 am

Thank you Jamal – yes, something VERY temperature sensitive is producing the CO2. Its right under everyone’s feet and there are more of them in every single handful of dirt than there are humans that have, do, or will ever exist

Reply to  Peta in Cumbria
August 20, 2015 1:21 pm

The biosphere as a whole, that is plant uptake as well as their decay, (soil) bacteria, molds, insects and animals, is a net sink for CO2. At least since 1990, when oxygen measurements were accurate enough to measure the tiny changes in oxygen consumption from burning fossil fuels vs. the biosphere uptake or release of oxygen. See:

Reply to  Jamal Munshi
August 20, 2015 12:21 pm

You are conflating the noise around the trend which is caused by the influence of the variability of temperature on the CO2 uptake by (tropical) forests with the cause of the trend, which is NOT caused by the same process (and probably not by temperature whatsoever). Vegetation is a net sink for CO2 over periods longer than 2-3 years, the earth is greening…
The increase in the atmosphere is 50-55% of human emissions. Human emissions currently are around 10 GtC/year, the increase is around 5 GtC/year and the variability around the trend is +/- 2 GtC/year. See:
The main error you have made is that the CO2 increase in the atmosphere is the result of two input variables: temperature and human emissions. On short time scales (seasonal, 2-3 years), the first is leading as that has a huge variability and little trend. On longer time scales, the huge trend in human emissions (with little variability) is leading, while temperature has little influence (per Henry’s law)…

Tom J
August 19, 2015 6:48 pm

Now we know where the hidden heat is. It’s from China’s reduced CO2 emissions!

August 19, 2015 6:51 pm

Their Co2 emissions are not the issue. It’s everything else ranging from ‘gutter oil’ to Chinese billionaires building ghost cities to the cultural apathy which is tearing the country apart from the inside out…

Reply to  Dog
August 19, 2015 6:54 pm

Sounds like someone who gets his science news from newspapers and magazines – and opinions, too. A good gullible candidate for alarmism of all kinds.

Reply to  Steve Garcia
August 19, 2015 6:57 pm

You must be confused…Or maybe I am because I’m far from being an extremist(alarmist). Could you clarify what you’re insinuating?

August 19, 2015 6:52 pm

See? This underscores something about the CO2 as measured in Hawaii. If you look at ANY graph of CO2 in the atmosphere, the line is a straight line, climbing and climbing at the same rate, with only little tiny wiggles.
I’d like someone to explain to me HOW with China being 75% of the increase that that curve didn’t take a big increase in slope.
You can’t have BOTH – a straight line world CO2 slope AND China in the ’90s adding that much coal-burned CO2 to the atmosphere. Without a kink when China jumped in, something is crooked in Denmark.

Reply to  Steve Garcia
August 19, 2015 10:38 pm

There should have been a small hockey blade there, true.

Reply to  Steve Garcia
August 20, 2015 12:32 pm

The Chinese economy did start slowly and increased rapidly, but for a part at the cost of the economy and CO2 emissions in Western countries…
The increase in the atmosphere was 50-55% of human emissions over the past 55 years. The increase in the atmosphere was slightly quadratic, as the emissions were, but recently flattened somewhat to a linear increase. If the Chinese emissions were lower, human emissions were more linear too and the ratio increase/emissions again around 50-55%:

August 19, 2015 7:11 pm

“Claim: China has emitted 15% less CO2 than previously estimated”
Too bad they are destroying more coral reef than Ocean Acidification®.
The alarmist never seem to talk about that.\
-.-. — ..—

August 19, 2015 7:48 pm

And boom, China already achieves its Carbon reduction target for 2030 thereby removing itself as a stumbling block to the Paris climate talks. How convenient.

Reply to  Elmer
August 20, 2015 7:26 am

It was never a real problem has China itself would decide what the targets where and if they had meant them

August 19, 2015 7:59 pm


August 19, 2015 8:23 pm

I don’t see how higher quality coal decreases CO2 production. Higher quality coal generally has a higher percentage of carbon, less sulfur, or both. Higher percentage of carbon means more CO2. Lower quality coal has combustible chemicals where some of the heat comes from oxidizing elements other than carbon, such as hydrogen or sulfur. I think the quality that affects ratio of CO2 emission to energy delivered is the quality of power generation, transmission and distribution.

Reply to  Donald L. Klipstein
August 20, 2015 1:35 am

The poster (Eric Worrall) here is wrong – the overall mix of coal China has been burning is lower quality than they thought. Thus as the total consumption figures are known (and fixed), burning a fixed amount of lower quality coal produces less CO2 than the same amount of high quality coal.
Press release on the issue from UEA:

Reply to  JimH
August 21, 2015 4:22 am

JimH is right, and the original post is wrong. China’s coal is lower quality than previously assumed, containing a lot of unburnable material. The paper in Nature reports the measured carbon content of hundreds of coal samples from all over China, finding that some contained as little as 20% carbon (averaging about 50% rather than the 70% assumed). So the CO2 emissions from a tonne of coal are less than expected. This type of empirical experimental study is exactly what scientists should be doing to understand carbon emissions more accurately.
So, Eric Worrall, please read the actual paper and correct your misleading post (email me for a copy if you don’t have access to it).

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Lombok Timur
Reply to  JimH
August 23, 2015 6:52 am

Ruth Dixon
You are on the right track, but the comparison has to be dry ash-free. In effect it is a comparison of the ratios of the elements making up the combustible portion of the fuel. China is importing coal from Mongolia all of which is relatively young and high in hydrogen and low in carbon (relatively). The effect is lowering the CO2 per MJ of energy released, but that is definitely in the ‘lower quality’ coal bracket. Ulaanbaatar runs on very low quality coal with 50% volatiles. In the right device it is very clean burning and has low CO2 as well, not that anyone cares about the latter aspect. Is low quality the new high quality? Both terms are arbitrary.

Reply to  Donald L. Klipstein
August 20, 2015 4:39 am

It is more about moisture content than carbon content. The higher the moisture content, the more coal you need to burn to generate the same energy. I find it incredible that they were 40% off the mark on the emission factors. Absolutely incredible. Unbelievable in fact.

August 19, 2015 8:41 pm

Did somebody notify the CO2 observatory on Mauna Loa Hawaii of this new find? Their graph is going up unchanged for that period. Or is there a hidden source of CO2 hidden in the amazon or Congo rain forests? Or…

Peta in Cumbria
Reply to  AntonyIndia
August 20, 2015 1:55 am

Not hidden at all. Its happening in almost every farmer’s field on this planet.
Not hidden either, go get a CO2 meter and with a large bucket and a stopwatch, you can measure it.
Even more interesting is to find a transparent bucket and repeat the experiment on sunny days…..

August 19, 2015 8:41 pm

The ‘Keeling Curve’ is a Piltdown Man, i.e. a fake.
A NOAA fabrication.

Reply to  601nan
August 20, 2015 12:40 pm

Sorry, that is nonsense.
NOAA’s temperature record is a Piltdown Man, but CO2 is measured in “background” atmosphere (as far away from local sources and sinks as possible) at some 70 places on earth not only by NOAA but by lots of other organizations from different countries, which all show the same increase over time (but more or less seasonal swings). See:
All stations use rigorous test and calibration procedures which show an accuracy of the measurements of +/- 0.2 ppmv for yearly averages:

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Lombok Timur
Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
August 23, 2015 6:56 am

South Africa has an equivalent atmospheric monitoring station at Cape Point with run by local volunteer scientists (pro bono). It is operated to a very high standard. It produces a CO2 curve as well. There is also an atmospheric mercury curve that fluctuates wildly, sometimes to zero for several hours, contradicting all expectations. No one know why, yet. Something (biological) in the atmosphere removes mercury.

August 19, 2015 8:44 pm

Also quote: “We find that total energy consumption in China was 10 per cent higher in 2000–2012 than the value reported by China’s national statistics”

Steve (Paris)
August 19, 2015 8:53 pm

BBC are making a huge song and dance about this today. Forget about the rest of the news from the real world.

Reply to  Steve (Paris)
August 19, 2015 9:06 pm

Steve (Paris) commented: “…BBC are making a huge song and dance about this today. ”
That should be everyone’s clue that it’s political and has nothing to do with the amount of CO2. 15% of China’s emissions aren’t going to change the balance even if CO2 emissions were a factor.

Malcolm Latarche
August 20, 2015 1:15 am

BBC also says
“”China’s emissions may be a bit less than we thought, but we know how much total CO2 there is in the atmosphere and it is monitored globally,” said Prof Dave Reay from the University of Edinburgh.
“This study therefore makes no difference to the total amount in the atmosphere; it simply means that accounting for Chinese emissions is getting better.”
Which begs the question if China isn’t the bad guy anymore then who is? Or are the figures quoted a big guess anyway

Peta in Cumbria
Reply to  Malcolm Latarche
August 20, 2015 1:57 am

The bad guy is everyone. Or everyone who eats any significant amount of starch/carbohydrate food derived from the production of annual plants like wheat, corn, rice etc.
Its easy to tell them apart – they are the fat ones.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Malcolm Latarche
August 20, 2015 12:31 pm

The point is that there isn’t a bad guy. The amount of non-anthropogenic CO2 has been underestimated.

Reply to  It doesn't add up...
August 20, 2015 12:52 pm

Any link for that? Seems a little difficult if humans are emitting twice the increase in the atmosphere, with a fourfold increase in 55 years for both emissions and increase, and there is no sign of any increase in the natural carbon cycle…

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  It doesn't add up...
August 20, 2015 1:13 pm

It’s grade school math. If the total CO2 in the atmosphere is unaltered by this study and the portion due to emissions from China is now estimated to be lower, the portion due to non-anthropogenic emissions must be higher by the same amount.

Reply to  It doesn't add up...
August 20, 2015 3:28 pm

What you say doesn’t add up…
Human emissions were (and still are) higher than the increase in the atmosphere, so the contribution of non-natural emissions and sinks was and is negative over the past 55 years: more sink than source.
The only result of the lower emissions from China is that the net sink rate was somewhat lower as the difference between human emissions and increase in the atmosphere got smaller…
Less sink rate is not the same as more contribution…

August 20, 2015 7:50 am

Hooray! We’re saved!
I think.

August 20, 2015 11:59 am

CO2 (above about 150 ppmv which is required for life as we know it) doesn’t matter, never has and never will.
Proof that CO2 has no effect on climate and identification of the two factors that do cause reported average global temperature change (sunspot number is the only independent variable) are at (new update with 5-year running-average smoothing of measured average global temperature (AGT), results in a near-perfect explanation of AGT since before 1900; R^2 = 0.97+).

It doesn't add up...
August 20, 2015 1:10 pm

What a lose piece of writing by/for Nature. Do they mean Carbon, or Carbon Dioxide? See below Anyway, one thing is clear – Chinese statistics are all over the place.
BP made substantial revisions to their CO2 emissions estimate for China in their annual Energy Statistics this year, increasing them by 7.9Gt over the history reported last year, including upward revisions for 2007 of 1Gt and 2008 of 0.9Gt. The idea that 0.3Gt represents 15% of China’s emissions in 2008 implies that the study is indeed referring merely to the elemental carbon tonnage in the CO2 emissions, since BP now report CO2 emissions of 7.7Gt CO2 for China in 2008. By doing this they make China’s emissions appear to be only 12/44ths of what they are (excluding other nasties such as PFCs from Al smelting).

Mary Brown
August 20, 2015 7:06 pm

Warm the present, cool the past. Now subtract CO2 from pauses. Works for me.

August 21, 2015 12:44 am

When the BBC reported this yesterday, (along with lots of footage of non CO2 emitting cooling towers) I was half expecting this to be put forward as an explanation of the “hiatus”.

August 21, 2015 6:48 am

Extraordinary claim “Science is settled but we have been overestimating China’s coal CO2 by 40% for years.
So it needs Extraordinary Evidence.
I don’t find the sudden switch-a-roo very credible.

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