Pattern changes in determinants of Chinese emissions

Zhifu Mi, Jing Meng, Dabo Guan*, Yuli Shan, Zhu Liu, Yutao Wang, Kuishuang Feng, Yi Ming Wei

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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The Chinese economy has been recovering slowly from the global financial crisis, but it cannot achieve the same rapid development of the pre-recession period. Instead, the country has entered a new phase of economic development - a 'new normal'. We use a structural decomposition analysis and environmental input-output analysis to estimate the determinants of China's carbon emission changes during 2005-2012. China's imports are linked to a global multi-regional input-output model based on the Global Trade and Analysis Project database to calculate the embodied CO 2 emissions in imports. We find that the global financial crisis has affected the drivers of China's carbon emission growth. From 2007 to 2010, the CO 2 emissions induced by China's exports dropped, whereas emissions induced by capital formation grew rapidly. In the 'new normal', the strongest factors that offset CO 2 emissions have shifted from efficiency gains to structural upgrading. Efficiency was the strongest factor offsetting China's CO 2 emissions before 2010 but drove a 1.4% increase in emissions in the period 2010-2012. By contrast, production structure and consumption patterns caused a 2.6% and 1.3% decrease, respectively, in China's carbon emissions from 2010 to 2012. In addition, China tends to shift gradually from an investment to a consumption-driven economy. The proportion of CO 2 emissions induced by consumption had a declining trend before 2010 but grew from 28.6%-29.1% during 2010-2012.

Original languageEnglish
Article number074003
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 27-Jun-2017
Externally publishedYes


  • CO emissions
  • financial crisis
  • input-output analysis
  • new normal
  • structural decomposition analysis

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