China to build system to count gas emissions

China plans to develop its own new comprehensive system for monitoring and accurately calculating the country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, a leading Chinese scientist said Tuesday.

There is no comparable system in place currently, and Ding Zhongli, vice president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), said its creation will help the country find out exactly how much GHG it emits, which is an essential basis for China’s carbon emission reduction efforts.

Researchers will compile GHG emission lists for quantitative evaluation of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions generated through both natural process and human activities, as part of an ongoing research program led by CAS, Ding told Xinhua.

The list will cover major human activities that cause emissions such as energy utilization, cement production, land use and livestock farming, said Ding.

China also plans to set up a system to monitor atmospheric CO2 concentration through satellite remote sensing, aerial and ground monitoring, and atmospheric modeling, he added.

Research is expected to provide more solid facts for China to deal with climate change-related issues such as carbon reduction and international negotiations, Ding said.

According to the CAS vice president, the expected rapid growth in China’s per-capita CO2 emission in the next 10 to 15 years poses challenges for accurate calculation of CO2 emission.

He said many factors, such as technologies used in coal consumption, could lead to miscalculation, thus a misunderstanding of carbon emission by China, which is emerging as a big emitter.

“Steam boilers that cannot burn coal sufficiently in China emit less CO2 than those of developed countries. Deciding emission factors on our own rather than using those of the developed countries can avoid inflating our CO2 emission statistics,” said Ding.

He said China’s scientific community will research on carbon sequestration and climate change’s impacts on different regions to prepare the country for climate adaptation and green development.

“Northeast China is likely to enjoy better climatic conditions for rice growing due to global warming, while north China suffers less precipitation and droughts. We will evaluate global warming’s impacts over a longer span on each region and provide advice for adaptation,” said Ding.

He explained the program also includes research on the carbon sequestration potential of forest, grassland, farmland and wetland.

Increasing the country’s “carbon sink,” the use of forests or other natural or manmade resources to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, is very important to its carbon reduction efforts, according to the Second National Assessment Report on Climate Change released last month.

The report says China’s manmade forest reserve has reached 62 million hectares, accounting for one third of the national forest coverage. The forest coverage rate rose from 18.21 percent in 2005 to 20.36 percent in 2010, and will further increase to 21.66 percent by 2015.

The country’s total carbon storage in forest vegetation has reached 7.911 billion tonnes.

Ding said energy utilization is also key to China’s CO2 emission mitigation efforts.

“China should prioritize the clean use of fossil fuels, and develop clean energies including hydro and nuclear power while limiting the impact on the environment,” he said.

Ding said the country should also establish a more advanced system for atmospheric modeling, in order to find out the relations between atmospheric CO2 concentration, aerosol’s cooling effects and rising temperatures.

He said the system can help evaluate whether increasing CO2-equivalent concentration in the atmosphere from 390 to 450 parts per million will cause global temperature to rise by two degrees Celsius, a scenario widely believed to cause catastrophic consequences worldwide.

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