Boom In China’s Construction Sector Resulting In Record CO2 Emissions

A new research has found that carbon emissions in China is being pushed to record highs with the country’s strategy to get out of the pandemic induced slowdown by boosting the construction sector of the country.

A report from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) stated that in the first quarter of 2021, there was a 14.5 per cent year on year rise in the CO2 emissions in China because of fossil fuel burning and cement production. That marked the fastest rate of growth in such emissions from these two sources in over a decade wrote lead analyst of the study Lauri Myllyvirta. The level of emissions in the country on the overall was also higher by 9 per cent for the first quarter compared to the same period of 2019 prior to the pandemic.

That resulted in emission of nearly 12 billion metric tons of CO2 in China for the year ending March 2021 which was also a record high.

“The CO2 surge reflects a rebound from coronavirus lockdowns in early 2020, but also a post-Covid economic recovery that has so far been dominated by growth in construction, steel and cement,” Myllyvirta said.

A rise in China’s carbon emissions was also noted in recent data from Carbon Monitor. There was a 21 per cent year on year rise in emissions of the country which was the fastest rate of growth in emissions among the major countries of the world, found the global CO2 emissions tracker.

The dilemma faced by the second largest economy of the world is highlighted by the latest research. It is important for China to maintain a high rate of economic growth and recovery if the country is to achieve the target of doubling the country’s GDP by 2035 as set by President Xi Jinping. However the country has also pledged to make achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. Additionally, one of the major areas of cooperation — and competition between the United States and China is climate policy.

According to experts and analysts, it would be very difficult for China to achieve the 2060 target as it is still the largest emitter of carbon. But for a country that is dependent on projects driven by fossil fuels, it is also difficult for China to bring down its climate impact and achieve a greener economy and continue with economic growth.

An increase in the use of coal in China was because of increased activity in China’s construction industry, Myllyvirta wrote. Coal burning was the case of 70 per cent of the rise in carbon emissions in the country in the first quarter while the rest was because of demand in oil and natural gas.

According to Myllyvirta, the power sector accounted for about 60 per cent of the rise in coal usage. The metals and building materials sectors were the other two major contributors as a rise in demand for real estate projects has resulted in increased activities in these two sectors.

(Adapted from


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