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China launches carbon monitoring satellite

AAP logoAAP 22/12/2016

China has launched it's first satellite to monitor global emissions of carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming.

The 620kg TanSat satellite was launched from the Jiuquan Space Launch Centre in Gobi desert into an orbit 700km from Earth, mission officials told official news agency Xinhua.

TanSat will take readings of CO2 levels every 16 days, accurate to at least four parts per million, and will be able to detect the smallest atmospheric variations, said Ying Zengshan, chief designer of TanSat at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

China is the third country, after the US and Japan, to launch such a satellite, with which it aims to observe if countries around the world are complying with their commitments to fight climate change.

The world's second largest economy and its biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, will also seek a better understanding of climate change and gather independent data through the satellite, Xinhua said.

The new satellite means a "louder voice for China on climate change, carbon reduction and in negotiations with a bigger say on carbon trading," according to Xinhua.

The report added that China will establish a national emission market next year, after an experimental phase in some of its provinces.

"Previously, all our data came from ground stations. That kind of data is both local and limited, and does not cover the oceans," said expert Zhang Peng, who is also a part of the team that developed TanSat.

The satellite, which took six years to develop, will be able to adjust its orientation and position automatically and will be calibrated by six ground-based observation stations.

China has pledged to peak its carbon dioxide emissions around 2030 and to gradually improve its energy efficiency.

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