China’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emission doubled that of the rest of the world in 2018, and represented 25% of the world total. The People’s Republic is the world’s largest emitter of CO2.
China’s policy on “climate change” is not focused on promoting a particular energy source (e.g. “renewables”), presented as an alternative to oil-based fossil fuels.
Nor is it focused on the systematic replacement of coal – which represents more than 60% of its energy supply – with natural gas imported from the United States. (“shale gas”), but in a structural fact of another nature, which is the modification of the productive matrix, revealed in the progressive reduction of energy intensity per unit of product, synonymous with the new industrial revolution.
The new government of the Fernandez family, under the magnifying glass of Ignacio Miri
The new industrial revolution, which is the fourth in the history of capitalism, is based on knowledge and “human capital”, and has left behind, as accessory and increasingly irrelevant factors, capital and labor; and it unfolds in China from 2011/2013, when the 5th Generation of the Party and State, led by Xi Jinping, took power.
Since then, the People’s Republic has managed to reduce its energy intensity per unit of output by more than 40%; and this formidable achievement is synonymous with the systematic expansion of the digital economy, which amounted to 38% of output in 2018 and would rise to more than 40% in 2020.
The Chinese digital economy – through which the new industrial revolution is passing – has been growing 12.2% per year in the last decade, twice the nominal GDP (+6.2% per year in 2019); and would exceed 50% of output in 2023, to cover almost the entire GDP (93% / 95%) in 2030.
The deployment of the digital economy means that the rise in per capita GDP (+8.1% per year / US$10,000 per year in 2019) is inversely related to the fall in energy intensity and correlates to a dramatic decrease in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
The result is that CO2 emissions per unit of product have decreased 40% / 45% between 2005 and 2020; and now it is foreseeable that this rate will be maintained in the next decade. Hence, China, which is mainly responsible for CO2 emissions in the world, is also the biggest energy intensity reducer in the planet.
Canada continues in this beneficial role and then the United States, the world’s largest economy (US$21.9 billion / 25% of global GDP), which preceded it in the leadership of pollution until 2005.
At this rate, China would reach the peak of energy intensity in 2025, while in the situation existing until 2011/2013, when the 5th Generation takes over, the maximum peak would be revealed only in 2050.
The Chinese government’s calculation is that coal intensity (CO2 emission per unit of product) decreased by 4% in 2018, which is equivalent to a cumulative decline of 45.8% compared to 2005 levels. This is a reduction of this strategically critical indicator of 5.26 billion tons of carbon dioxide in that period.
This key achievement has come at a time when pollution has virtually disappeared in major urban centres, primarily in the north of the country, led by Beijing, which has been plunged into a catastrophic ecological crisis in the run-up to 2011/2013.