- -

China’s economy languishes as EU links coronavirus recovery to climate goals

Published April 16, 2020

China’s economy languishes as EU links coronavirus recovery to climate goals

The European Union’s leaders have agreed the bloc’s coronavirus economic recovery plan should be linked to climate change goals, according to Reuters.  

Investors and environmental groups were seeking assurances that Brussels would not lose sight of these climate change goals.  

Meanwhile, China’s rebound in industrial operation and domestic fossil fuel consumption has been slow, reports a piece in Carbon Brief.  This is despite anecdotal evidence that local authorities have ordered factories to use more electricity, whether or not they are fully staffed, in an effort to stimulate demand for power.  

The climate change news service has calculated that the coronavirus pandemic temporarily reduced China’s CO2 emissions by a quarter.  The most recent data, including official government figures, show that China’s carbon emissions fell by around 25% over a four-week period, equivalent to around 200m tonnes of CO2 (MtCO2).  

Demand slowly returned to normal levels over the seven-week period, bringing the reduction so far to around 250MtCO2, with emissions 18% lower than usual levels. 

The EU’s executive commission wants the 27 member states to sign to plans to make the bloc greenhouse gas neutral by 2050. Poland is the only member state to not sign up. Poland has warned the pandemic will make it harder to meet climate targets. 

But Nick Fedson, a sustainablity analyst at Alfa Energy, warned the impact of the pandemic should not be allowed to derail international climate efforts.

“While some might celebrate the temporary 25% emissions reductions in China, we should be wary of emissions reductions stemming only from reduced productivity,” he commented. “The longer-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are potentially damaging to climate policy. Economic recovery might occur through temporarily less strict environmental protection. We have already seen the US slash fuel economy standards. Of even more immediate concern is that the pandemic has effectively halted preparations for the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow later this year. International climate diplomacy has been put been on hold as governments work with each other to manage the pandemic. However, there are calls that the summit should not be postponed.”