China's greenhouse gas data is dubious at best

Major media outlets are reporting that China's carbon dioxide emissions magically decreased in 2014.  As Bloomberg noted:

China's emissions of carbon dioxide fell last year for the first time in more than a decade, helping stall global production of climate-warming gases. The finding, along with new data from the International Energy Agency, is a sign that efforts to control pollution are gaining traction ...

Global carbon emissions from the energy sector were unchanged last year, the first time in 40 years that a halt or dip wasn't associated with an economic downturn, the IEA said Friday in a statement. China and developed nations have encouraged investment in renewable energy and efficiency measures, decoupling economic growth from emissions, the IEA said ...

China's coal consumption fell 2.9 percent in 2014 from the previous year, the first drop in at least a decade.

With the Paris climate talks scheduled for later this year, one can expect a broad spectrum of dubious environmental and economic statistics being placed in the mainstream media during the coming months in an attempt to sway public and political opinion toward binding international greenhouse gas reductions.

Despite China being the world's largest GHG emitter, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change database contains negligible data on China's emissions since 1990.

There are only two years (1994 and 2005) with available data.  Nothing more.

The BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014 is the other benchmark source of international energy use and emissions data.  The following chart shows China's carbon dioxide emissions from 1965 up to 2013 (the latest year in the BP database).

Based on the rapid rate of increase that has been taking place over the past 15 years right up to 2013, it appears exceedingly unlikely that China reversed this trend and saw substantial carbon dioxide emission reductions from 2013 to 2014.

Furthermore, according to the BP Statistical Review, renewables constituted only 1.50 percent of China's total primary energy consumption in 2013, up only slightly from 1.22 percent in 2012.  Summing primary energy consumption from nuclear, hydroelectric, and renewables in 2013 for China gets to only 9.6 percent of total energy consumption, just a marginal increase from 9.3 percent in 2012.

The percentage of China's total primary energy consumption from oil, natural gas, and coal was effectively unchanged between 2012 and 2013 – remaining at 90 percent – further suggesting that the claim that a large reduction in this nation's carbon dioxide emissions took place during 2014 due to the rapid influx of low-carbon energy sources deserves serious skepticism.

The IMF has China's economic growth for 2014 set to come in as the lowest since 1990.  Rather than decoupling economic growth from carbon emissions, if indeed China's carbon emissions stabilized in 2014 or even declined any such stabilization or decline is instead most likely occurring because of rapidly dropping economic activity.  But based on the low quality of statistical data from China, skepticism should remain the default position.