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China’s forests capture almost half of country’s CO2

wallpapers Business 2020-08-19 >

Carbon dioxide occurs naturally all the time – you’re breathing it out as we speak. And yet you’re mostly hearing about it in a negative context, because it causes a greenhouse effect and, therefore, contributes to global warming. It’s because we produce too much of it and our forests cannot keep up to absorb it. Now scientists from the University of Edinburgh found that China’s vegetation reabsorbs almost half of the country’s estimated annual CO2 emissions.

Bamboo forests in China. This kind of green landscape works as a filter for Earth’s atmosphere. Image credit: Carsten Ullrich via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

China is an industrial country, where manufacturing accounts for a huge portion of the country’s economy. You know that because most of what you own is made in China. This means that along with cheap goods China also produces a lot of CO2. Carbon dioxide is not necessarily evil in itself – green plants absorb the CO2 that animals breathe out. But plants typically cannot keep up with the industrial production of CO2, which is what causes those environmental problems. 

Because previously CO2 monitoring stations across China were few and far between, scientists couldn’t produce accurate estimates of how much CO2 is actually produced in China. However, recently this changed. Now scientists estimate that China’s green plants absorbed about 45 % of the country’s emissions between 2010 and 2016. This is a better number than was previously believed possible. A lot of China’s CO2 is being absorbed by a vast CO2 sink, consisting of forests, vegetation and shrubs. Satellite data shows that in the past 10-15 years China’s Yunnan, Guizhou and Guangxi provinces have increased provincial forest areas by between 0.04 million and 0.39 million hectares per year. China has more forests, which allows it to sink more CO2 than was previously believed.

Professor Yi Liu, scientist from China who worked in this project, said: “Achieving China’s net-zero target by 2060, recently announced by the Chinese President Xi Jinping, will involve a massive change in energy production and also the growth of sustainable land carbon sinks. The afforestation activities described in this paper will play a role in achieving that target.”

Targets are important, but China is still one of the major global emitters of CO2. It needs quick action to clean its cities and industrial regions. Planting forests is absolutely important, but building safer, cleaner factories and a better transport infrastructure should be in the heads of policy makers as well.

This study showed how important accurate data is. Scientists didn’t know the actual CO2 data from China, because CO2 stations were lacking. Equipment needs to be improved elsewhere as well so we would know our pollution situation and could address it with scientific accuracy.


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