The Chinese study said that increased summer rains, forest-planting efforts, shrubland expansion, shifts in crop use and higher bamboo mass soaked up 28% to 37% of industrial emissions in the 1980s and 1990s. It also found that China’s plants and soils soaked up more carbon per square metre than in Europe but less than in the United States.
However, an American carbon expert said the percentage of emissions absorbed by plants was declining because a surge in China’s economic growth meant that the country’s emissions were expanding faster than its vegetation. “It’s dropping like a rock,” said Kevin Robert Gurney, of Purdue University, of the percentage.
For 2007, vegetation would have offset just 10% to 15% of China’s emissions, Gurney told Reuters. Projections of Chinese energy use in 2030 by the International Energy Agency would cut the level to 6% to 8%, assuming stable rates of vegetation uptake.
Gurney welcomed the study as helping understanding of China, which is about 14% forested. “We haven’t had a really good handle on Chinese emissions until now,” he said.
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