China gets better at monitoring its emissions

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China is getting better at monitoring its energy mix and its emissions, precisely because the country understands the climate threat and is working with the rest of the world to fight it, a U.S. expert has said.

China is working hard to meet and even exceed its climate commitments, said Barbara Finamore, Asia Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a U.S.-based environmental advocacy group.

China is committed to peak CO2 emissions by 2030 or earlier, and obtain one-fifth of its energy through non-fossil sources by 2030, as the trends in these areas are clear, along with China's intention to increase its renewables uptake through green dispatch, she said in a written interview.

A report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration in September found that in 2014, China's energy-content-based coal consumption was essentially flat, and production declined by 2.6 percent, Finamore said.

This decline is continuing in 2015, as clean and non-fossil energy including hydro, wind, nuclear and solar continue to expand and replace coal consumption, she said.

China's provinces and cities beset by heavy air pollution have been tasked since 2013 with reducing their coal consumption and have been eliminating old coal-fired boilers and equipment and replacing them with more efficient equipment, combined heat and power, as well as switching to natural gas, she noted.

Finamore cautioned that the need to reduce China's dependence on coal is more urgent than ever.

Close to 21 provinces and autonomous regions and more than 30 cities have already set different targets for coal consumption reduction, she said.

A national coal cap would build on these efforts, reducing the share of coal in China's energy consumption from the current 66 percent to below 58 percent by 2020, protecting the environment and conserving resources efficiently while providing a basis for future growth in clean energy industries, the expert said.

This could enable China to peak its CO2 emissions by 2025, five years earlier than its current target, she noted.

She said that no one has a bigger stake in getting this right than China itself, adding that the United States and China are partners in the global shift away from dirty fuels like coal and toward clean energy options like wind and solar.

"China has invested more in this shift than any other country on Earth," she said.

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