Carbon emissions in China are lower than during Covid pandemic

Carbon emissions in China are lower than during Covid pandemic due to continued Covid lockdowns – signalling a major approaching recession

  • Carbon dioxide emissions in China and Europe have sunk below the average output during the Covid-19 pandemic, potentially signaling a major recession
  • High energy prices are deterring countries from ramping up production
  • Chinese emissions have dipped significantly after five weeks of lockdown

Carbon dioxide emissions in China have sunk lower than those measured during the Covid-19 pandemic after continued lockdowns across the country, potentially signaling a major recession.

Eurasian nations have seen carbon emissions fall close to those of March 2020 which preceded the last recession, according to climate data company Kayrros which uses satellites to track greenhouse gases.

China’s emissions are lower than they were throughout 2021, when the majority of the world was in the grips of new Covid-19 variants, with CO2 levels hovering just above the time the pandemic first struck. 

High energy prices are stopping countries from growing their economies, said Kayrros.

Carbon dioxide emissions in China and Europe have sunk to the same levels as lowest point of the Covid-19 pandemic, potentially signaling a major recession

‘Any fall in emissions is good news for the climate, but this one is happening for the wrong reasons – because of economic pain rather than a durable move towards a renewable energy system,’ said Antoine Halff, co-founder and chief analyst at Kayrros. 

Chinese industrial emissions have dipped significantly after five weeks of lockdowns shut off on its most populous city, Shanghai, with the country’s zero-Covid policy causing retail sales to fall for three months in a row.

Although the country has declared victory over the virus, ending its full lockdown after two months on June 1, Shanghai’s neighborhoods returned to lockdown a day after the restrictions were eased.

Shenzhen, a city nearly 1,000 miles from Shanghai adjacent Hong Kong, entered a limited lockdown on Monday after a fresh outbreak. 

Chinese investment in construction – adjusted for inflation – is lower than it was a year ago.

Using the heat signature of industrial plants, the climate firm identified the heat signature of industrial plants, estimating the CO2 output. 

Kayrros data showed cement production in China has dropped 30% below seasonal levels, another indicator of economic decline.

The technical default of China’s second biggest property developer Evergrande, which verged on economic collapse before the government stepped in, led to a slow down in China’s housing market and construction sector.

‘In China, the data is consistent with reports of a slow down in the construction sector,’ said a Kayrros spokesperson speaking to MailOnline.

‘However there is the beginning of a rebound in China in the latest data suggesting government incentives and stimulus for infrastructure may be having an impact — and for coal-fired power generation the heat wave in Henan is also supporting power generation.’

In Europe, industrial emissions are also edging close to the lows of March 2020, highlighting plant shutdowns across the continent.

Europe’s steel and cement sectors have been especially affected, according to the research.

The most significant changes are in Germany and Italy – both heavily dependent on Russian energy.

Kayrros has also been monitoring the trade of liquefied natural gas (LNG) across Eurasia in real-time by tracking ships, identifying several cases of disruption driven by the war in Ukraine and other supply-chain issues. 

Last month, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that Germany would build two domestic LNG import terminals to receive gas from elsewhere. Four floating terminals could be operational by winter 2022.

But European countries will struggle to plug the Russia-shaped energy hole with imported natural gas, said Halff. 

One of the US’ largest export plants, Freeport LNG, shut down for at least three weeks following an explosion at its Texas Gulf Coast facility on June 9, raising the risk of gas shortages in Europe.

‘The strong price response to the Freeport outage shows that nations cannot rely on importing more gas alone,’ said Halff, adding that European reliance on imported US gas is only a temporary solution.

Outages at the Soyo LNG plant in Angola have also affected the global energy supply. The two plants combined account for roughly 5% of global LNG production.

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