Official data from China shows coal use continuing to fall precipitously – bringing carbon dioxide emissions down with it.

China is cutting coal and CO2 emissions faster than any other country, the CO2 reduction could be equal to UK total emissions over same period.

The data – which comes months before crucial climate talks in Paris – means China has cut emissions during the first four months of the year by roughly the same amount as the total carbon emissions of the United Kingdom over the same period.

The figures suggest the decline in China’s coal use is accelerating after figures for last year showed China’s coal use fell for the first time this century.

An analysis of the data by Greenpeace/Energydesk China suggests coal consumption in the world’s largest economy fell by almost 8% and CO2 emissions by around 5% in the first four months of the year, compared with the same period in 2014.

It comes after the latest data – for April – showed coal output down 7.4% year on year amidst reports of fundamental reform for the sector.

The reduction in emissions from 2014 to 2015 is roughly equal to the total CO2 emissions of the UK over four months, and the reduction in coal use is equal to four times UK total consumption.

If the reduction continues until the end of the year, it will be the largest recorded year-on-year reduction in coal use and CO2 in any country.

John Sauven, Executive Director of Greenpeace UK, said, “While China has historically been used as an excuse not to act on climate change, now we are beginning to see China as the example of why we should act on climate change.”

“The drop in emissions from coal shows that the progress made on alternative energy and energy efficiency is beginning to kick in. While some of the drop may be caused by slower GDP growth, the majority is clearly government action to curtail coal use and rebalance the economy.”

“China’s drop in emissions is a timely message to the rest of the world ahead of climate talks in Paris in December.”