Consumption-based emission accounting for Chinese cities

Zhifu Mi, Yunkun Zhang, Dabo Guan, Yuli Shan, Zhu Liu, Ronggang Cong, Xiao-Chen Yuan, Yi-Ming Wei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

483 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


Most of China’s CO2 emissions are related to energy consumption in its cities. Thus, cities are critical for implementing China’s carbon emissions mitigation policies. In this study, we employ an input-output model to calculate consumption-based CO2 emissions for thirteen Chinese cities and find substantial differences between production- and consumption-based accounting in terms of both overall and per capita carbon emissions. Urban consumption not only leads to carbon emissions within a city’s own boundaries but also induces emissions in other regions via interregional trade. In megacities such as Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin, approximately 70% of consumption-based emissions are imported from other regions. Annual per capita consumption-based emissions in the three megacities are 14, 12 and 10 tonnes of CO2 per person, respectively. Some medium-sized cities, such as Shenyang, Dalian and Ningbo, exhibit per capita emissions that resemble those in Tianjin. From the perspective of final use, capital formation is the largest contributor to consumption-based emissions at 32–65%. All thirteen cities are categorized by their trading patterns: five are production-based cities in which production-based emissions exceed consumption-based emissions, whereas eight are consumption-based cities, with the opposite emissions pattern. Moreover, production-based cities tend to become consumption-based as they undergo socioeconomic development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1073–1081
JournalApplied Energy
Early online date23 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2016


  • Consumption-based accounting
  • Production-based emissions
  • Embodied emissions
  • Input-output analysis
  • Carbon footprint
  • City

Cite this