A new study says the explosive growth in China’s construction sector is now driving the country’s steep increase in carbon emissions, reversing a long-term trend in which consumption and exports were the dominant factors.
According to the study, published in journal Environmental Science & Technology, increased capital investment in infrastructure projects has fueled an expansion of the energy-intensive construction industry in recent years.
Until 2002, the most critical factor driving Chinese CO2 emissions was the growth of consumption and factory production for exports, said Jan C. Minx of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and lead author of the study. From 2002 to 2007, however, researchers found that improved energy efficiency actually offset the rise in emissions from increased consumption. But emissions continued to skyrocket during that period — with the average annual CO2 emissions growth rivaling the UK’s total CO2 emissions— largely because of growth in the construction sector and related energy-intensive products such as steel and concrete.
“Emissions grow faster and faster because CO2 intensive sectors linked to the building of infrastructure have become more and more dominant,” Minx said.
Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.