China increased its carbon intensity by three per cent during a frenetic nine-year economic growth spurt, despite government targets to reduce emissions 45 per cent by 2020.
There were wide variations between different provinces, although even those that showed slower economic growth reported up to 27 per cent net losses in carbon efficiency.
‘Capital investment creates a market demand for large-scale production expansion of cement, steel and other highly emission-intensive materials,’ said Professor Guan, a UEA researcher.
Improvements were recorded, especially in the economically advanced coastal zones where new technologies came into service, but these gains were offset by massive economic growth.
This year’s figures did indicate a five per cent drop in carbon intensity, the most significant drop for years. ‘The efficiency improvements are due to diminishing investments in emission-intensive industries,’ said Guan. ‘But this could be temporary if China cannot decouple its economic growth with emission-intensive capital investments.’
Economic development is also stressing China’s water, with 75 per cent of its lakes and rivers contaminated.