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China's set to Achieve its Carbon Emission Goals by 2020

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

A recent study suggests a significant decline in the polluting emissions from Chinese thermal power plants. That places the nation on track to attain its carbon emission goals by 2020.

A team of experts from the UK and China sought to understand the extent of the country’s emissions from fossil fuel burning –  oil, coal, natural gas, and biomass power plants.

More importantly, they wanted to know the contribution of coal-fired power plants to the ambient air pollution since the Ultra-Low Emissions (ULE) Standards Policy was introduced.

China started the ULE Standards Policy in 2014 to limit the emission of air pollution by renovating its coal-fired power stations. That means, the researchers only analyzed data from 2014, when the policy started, to 2017.

Here’s what they found out.

ULE Standards Policy Could Help China Achieve Its Goals

Findings from the study suggest a significant drop in China’s annual power plant emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter.

These three emissions had dropped by 60, 65, and 72 percent, respectively, from 2014 to 2017. The researchers attributed this decline to the ULE standards policy.

The result suggests that China could achieve its carbon emission goals by next year.

For this to happen, all the thermal power plants must meet the ULE standards by 2020. Based on the rules, emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate matter must be 55, 50, and 10 milligrams per cubic meters, respectively, by the target year.

In a statement to the press, co-author of the study, Dr. Zhifu Mi said:

“These significant emission reductions demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of controlling emissions from power plants to reach ultra-low levels, which is an important step towards reducing the number of deaths attributable to air pollution.”

According to the researchers, previous methods of estimating Chinese power emissions had overestimated the numbers by at least 18 percent. That’s because these studies made their estimations ahead of the introduction of the ULE standards.

Since coal is the most used fuel in China, the researchers admitted that cutting carbon emissions would be challenging. However, findings from the study suggest that the mission is not impossible.

The team published their findings in the journal Nature Energy.

Read More: Human Carbon Emission is 100x Greater Than Volcanoes

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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