Examining air pollution in China using production- and consumption-based emissions accounting approaches

Hong Huo, Qiang Zhang, Dabo Guan, Xin Su, Hongyan Zhao, Kebin He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Citations (Scopus)


Two important reasons for China's air pollution are the high emission factors (emission per unit of product) of pollution sources and the high emission intensity (emissions per unit of GDP) of the industrial structure. Therefore, a wide variety of policy measures, including both emission abatement technologies and economic adjustment, must be implemented. To support such measures, this study used the production- and consumption-based emissions accounting approaches to simulate the SO2, NOx, PM2.5, and VOC emissions flows among producers and consumers. This study analyzed the emissions and GDP performance of 36 production sectors. The results showed that the equipment, machinery, and devices manufacturing and construction sectors contributed more than 50% of air pollutant emissions, and most of their products were used for capital formation and export. The service sector had the lowest emission intensities, and its output was mainly consumed by households and the government. In China, the emission intensities of production activities triggered by capital formation and export were approximately twice that of the service sector triggered by final consumption expenditure. This study suggests that China should control air pollution using the following strategies: applying end-of-pipe abatement technologies and using cleaner fuels to further decrease the emission factors associated with rural cooking, electricity generation, and the transportation sector; continuing to limit highly emission-intensive but low value-added exports; developing a plan to reduce construction activities; and increasing the proportion of service GDP in the national economy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14139-14147
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2014

Cite this