China alone accounts for around a third of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, mainly caused by the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas.

This year, Chinese emissions are also expected to increase, as a result of the post-pandemic economic recovery.


The world's biggest climate villain is also further ahead than all others when it comes to renewable energy.

The surge in solar and wind power, the expected recovery of hydropower and the increase in the number of electric cars mean that electricity generation from fossil fuels and carbon dioxide emissions will "almost guarantee" to decrease in China by 2024, according to Lauri Myllyvirta, an analyst at the Helsinki-based Centre for Energy and Clean Air Research (Crea).

"In recent years, we have seen an astonishing boom in clean energy and investments in clean technology in China. Now we have come to a point where the annual additions of clean energy can cover the increased demand for electricity," Myllyvirta told the news agency TT.

It could be the beginning of a lasting decline, and if so, it is good news for the world's climate efforts.

Coal dependence

But it is still not entirely certain that it will turn around next year.

To break the trend, investments in fossil-free energy must continue. A dark cloud on the horizon is China's dependence on coal. Coal power continues to grow, despite the government's promises and targets.

"When we reach the point where the demand for coal decreases in China, it will of course be difficult for the coal industry to swallow. There are powerful interests that will try to slow down the growth of clean energy," Myllyvirta says.

Soon, the countries of the world will gather in Dubai to try to move up a gear in climate work during the COP28 summit. Whether the meeting will lead to real steps forward depends a lot on what the emissions giants China and the United States do.