China’s giant state-owned firms pollute more than entire nations

Massive emissions from China’s state-owned companies underscore an urgent need for corrective actions that the Asian economic giant should undertake to address the issue.

As part of a collective effort to combat climate change, several nations have pledged to secure the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius at the recently held international climate conference.

While world leaders have been meeting to try and find a solution to curb climate change, Chinese leader Xi Jinping, the leader of the largest carbon emitter on the planet, did not attend the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Scotland. His absence naturally drew criticism from US President Joe Biden.

President Xi Jinping promised last year to stop adding to the global warming problem by 2060, as these companies are expected to shift to clean energy by embracing new technologies.

But, the current situation on the ground does not look promising.

According to a Bloomberg report, the carbon emissions of China’s giant state-owned companies are more than many nations.

“Emissions of numerous state-owned enterprises in the power, steel, cement, oil refining, and other major emitting sectors are equal to those of entire nations,” Lauri Myllyvirta, an analyst with the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air who made predictions on Chinese companies carbon emission for the project shared by Bloomberg, said.

“Once these enterprises align their investments and business plans with the emissions-neutrality target, they can make an enormous contribution, if they choose to,” Myllyvirta added.

A Finland-based environmental research group, CREA, has collected data from those Chinese companies in the most polluting sectors by focusing on their public data showing coal use and production capacities and their sustainability reports.

All estimations include the emissions from manufacturing operations and electricity use.

China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC)’s Dalian Petrochemical Corp refinery is seen near the downtown of Dalian in Liaoning province, China July 17, 2018. (Reuters)

Jaw-dropping emissions

According to the data, the annual carbon emission generated by Petrochina Company Limited, operating in the oil sector, is about 881 million tonnes which is more than the carbon emissions of Vietnam plus South Korea per year.

Another petroleum company, China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation, is emitting 733 million metric tonnes per year which is nearly equal to both Spain’s and Canada’s emissions.

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Huaneng Power International, a thermal power giant, produces 317 million metric tonnes emission per year which is close to the UK’s annual emission.

The construction company of China National Building emits almost the same amount of greenhouse gas as France produces.

China Baowu, the world’s top steelmaker, put more CO2 into the atmosphere last year than Belgium plus Austria or Pakistan.

Saic Motor Corp contributed almost equal to global warming last year with Argentina as it generated 158 million metric cubes of emission.

It is expected that China will release its detailed road map to limit emissions in the near future while state-owned companies have signalled a quick shift to clean energy and more energy storage than official targets.

The Forbidden City is seen from the top of Jingshan Park during a heavily polluted day in Beijing, China, November 29, 2015. (Reuters)

However, China won’t promise to cut coal use until 2026 and is trying to increase its output by 100 million tons by the end of the year amid power shortages as it has been trying to boost its economy after the lockdown period of the coronavirus pandemic.

Chinese officials assert that their aim over global warming is the most ambitious plan ever attempted by underlining that other developed nations are also struggling to reach their targets.

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