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The post-pandemic surge means China’s emissions reached a new record high of nearly 12bn tonnes (GtCO2) in the year ending March 2021. This is some 600m tonnes (5%) above the total for 2019....If emissions in 2021 as a whole match the growth seen over the past 12 months, there would be little room for further increases to 2025, under the targets of China’s 14th five-year plan....

Even against the pre-pandemic first quarter of 2019, January-March 2021 posted growth of 9%, showing that the increase this year is not only a rebound from the impact of lockdowns in 2020. The latest increase helped push China’s emissions to a new record high of nearly 12GtCO2 in the 12 months to March 2021, as shown in the chart below. This is nearly 600MtCO2 (5%) higher than the total in 2019, which was unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic....

As Covid-19 lockdowns skew the baseline for year-on-year comparisons, however, this section will be comparing 2021 data to the corresponding periods in 2019....On this basis, around 70% of the increase in emissions in the first quarter of 2021 was due to increased use of coal, with growth in oil demand contributing 20% and fossil gas demand 10%. Some 60% of the increase in coal use came from the power sector, with the metals industry (15%) and the building materials sector (10%, cement and glass) the next largest contributors.

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