China's “exported carbon” peak: Patterns, drivers, and implications

Zhifu Mi, Jing Meng, Fergus Green, D' Maris Coffman, Dabo Guan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


Over the past decade, China has entered a “new normal” phase in economic development, with its role in global trade flows changing significantly. This study estimates the driving forces of Chinese export‐embodied carbon emissions in the new normal phase, based on environmentally extended multiregional input‐output modeling and structural decomposition analysis. We find that Chinese export‐embodied CO2 emissions peaked in 2008 at a level of 1,657 million tones. The subsequent decline in CO2 emissions was mainly due to the changing structure of Chinese production. The peak in Chinese export‐embodied emissions is encouraging from the perspective of global climate change mitigation, as it implies downward pressure on global CO2 emissions. However, more attention should focus on ensuring that countries that may partly replace China as major production bases increase their exports using low‐carbon inputs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4309-4318
Number of pages10
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number9
Early online date24 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2018


  • emission transfers
  • exports
  • China
  • multiregional input‐output
  • structural decomposition analysis

Cite this