China will force key industrial sectors and regions to take action to measure greenhouse gas emissions as part of a new initiative to improve data quality and oversight, according to an environment ministry document.
Under the pilot programme, some of China’s biggest coal-fired power providers, steel mills and oil and gas producers must draw up comprehensive new greenhouse gas monitoring plans by the end of this year.
It comes as China, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, needs to beef up its measurement of carbon emissions in line with its monitoring of air pollutants to meet a pledge to become carbon neutral by around 2060, say experts and environmentalists.
“In contrast to air pollutants, there is a major gap in reporting on CO2 emissions – there is no regular reporting in place that would disclose the country’s total emissions,” Lauri Myllyvirta, lead analyst with the Helsinki-based Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), said.
Curbs on pollutants
“Expanding the emission monitoring and disclosure that is currently in place for air pollutants to CO2 would be a huge step forward,” he added.
After some success in curbing the choking smog that envelops many of China’s industrial cities over winter, the State Council has already promised to expand curbs on pollutants such as volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides and heavy metal waste.
This will require more real-time environmental monitoring stations and advanced technologies that can detect a wider range of emissions and catch companies trying to cheat, officials and environmentalists said.
But the yawning coverage gap on carbon dioxide emissions could prove the biggest challenge. China up to now has relied largely on proxy indicators – including energy consumption – to measure CO2, falling behind countries in Europe.
According to the policy document, dated September 2021 and supplied to Reuters by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, the new monitoring programme aims to provide “statistical support” for the country’s fight against climate change.
- Reuters with additional editing by George Russell