China, India slow global emissions growth, Trump’s polices will flatten US emissions

14th May 2017

Global leadership on climate is changing: Positive developments on coal use in China and India are likely to reduce projected global carbon emissions growth by roughly two to three billion tonnes by 2030 compared to forecasts made a year ago, the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) said today.

(full briefing / table on the effect of the Trump Administration on emissions / graphic of US emissions under Trump Administration / press conference

The recent, sweeping policy rollbacks by President Trump are unlikely to have a major impact on global emissions by 2030, according to the CAT analysis on China, India, and the US, released at the Bonn climate talks.

“The highly adverse rollbacks of US climate policies by the Trump Administration, if fully implemented and not compensated by other actors, are projected to flatten US emissions instead of continuing on a downward trend,” said Prof Niklas Höhne, of NewClimate Institute.

Meanwhile, both China and India are set to overachieve their Paris Agreement climate pledges. China’s coal consumption declined over three consecutive years (2013 to 2016), and a continued slow decline is expected. India has stated that its planned coal-fired power plants may not be needed. If the country fully implements recently announced policies, India would see a significant slowing in the growth of CO2 emissions over the next decade.

“Five years ago, the idea of either China or India stopping—or even slowing—coal use was considered an insurmountable hurdle, as coal-fired power plants were thought by many to be necessary to satisfy the energy demands of these countries,” said Bill Hare of Climate Analytics. “Recent observations show they are now on the way toward overcoming this challenge.”

The positive developments in India and China significantly outweigh the potentially negative effects on emissions from the Trump Administration’s proposed rollbacks in the US, estimated at around 0.4 GtCO2 by 2030.

“In the last ten years, the energy market has transformed: The price of renewable energy from wind and solar has dropped drastically,” said Yvonne Deng of Ecofys, a Navigant company. “Renewables are now cost-competitive and being built at a much faster rate than coal-fired power plants.”

The Trump Administration remains undecided on its overall position on the Paris Agreement. A reduction of its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC)—or a complete withdrawal from the Paris Agreement—would contradict the spirit and the need of the Paris Agreement to increase climate action.

If the CAT were to rate the current policies of the Trump Administration as an NDC, it would move it from “Medium” to “Inadequate” on its rating scale.