China is the world’s largest producer of harmful anthropogenic carbon dioxide, accounting for about 28% of global emissions. However, the country recently announced that it intends to peak emissions by 2030 and then achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.
Over the past decade, billions of trees have been planted across the country to combat desertification and soil loss, and create a vibrant wood and paper industry.
The researchers found two previously underestimated areas where trees actively absorb carbon: southwest China, Yunnan, Guizhou and Guangxi provinces, and northeast, especially Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces.
We have pieced together a range of terrestrial and satellite data to form a consistent and reliable story about China’s carbon cycle.
The terrestrial biosphere in southwest China, which is by far the largest absorption region, represents a sink of about -0.35 petagrams (billion tonnes) per year, accounting for 31.5% of China’s land-based carbon sink.
According to Richard Black, director of the Energy Analysis and Climate Information Unit (ECIU), China’s forests are consuming more than anticipated. However, this does not mean that carbon neutrality can be achieved in this way. It is necessary to offset not only CO2, but also the current emissions of all greenhouse gases.
On the other hand, the carbon balance of China’s forests could be jeopardized by the impacts of various climate change, as we see in California, Australia and Russia.