Environmental advocacy group Greenpeace says it's actually China, where smog chokes the capital city, that's taking the edge in the race for a low-carbon economy. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 28 (UPI) -- A survey of data from China finds the world's second-largest economy is advancing on efforts to cut emissions, an environmental group said.
Environmental advocacy group Greenpeace said its review of data from the Chinese government shows a decline in emissions of carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas, of around 1 percent, the fourth year in a row for either zero growth or a decline.
In early February, Beijing Mayor Cai Qi said the city would move to improve air quality across the region by taking a dramatic step away from the use of coal.
China accounts for about 50 percent of the global demand for coal and, because of the size of its economy, that translates to about half of the world's total coal production. In Beijing, coal-based heating and industrial activity are key contributors to air pollution
According to Greenpeace, Chinese coal consumption declined last year for the third year in a row. The advocacy group held out China as a leader in low-carbon efforts on the same week it said Washington introduced new budget plans that call for "massive cuts" in spending on climate issues.
"The United States should be one of the countries leading the world on climate action, doubling down on renewable energy and drastically cutting emissions," Greenpace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard said in an emailed statement. "Instead, we are a global roadblock."
U.S. President Donald Trump has adopted an energy policy that emphasizes oil and natural gas, vowing to make the country energy independent. According to the American Petroleum Institute, an oil and gas trade group, the U.S. energy sector supports three times as many jobs as renewable energy.
China's official Xinhua News Agency published an editorial following Trump's inauguration in January that said decoupling the U.S. economy from the renewable energy sector might not work as designed.
Citing several clean-energy policy advocates and government advisors, Xinhua said Washington was wasting an economic opportunity by its reluctance to advance low-carbon policies.