Socioeconomic drivers of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States

Sai Liang, Hongxia Wang, Shen Qu, Tiantian Feng, Dabo Guan, Hong Fang, Ming Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


Existing studies examined the U.S.’s direct GHG emitters and final consumers driving upstream GHG emissions, but overlooked the U.S.’s primary suppliers enabling downstream GHG emissions and relative contributions of socioeconomic factors to GHG emission changes from the supply side. This study investigates GHG emissions of sectors in the U.S. from production-based (direct emissions), consumption-based (upstream emissions driven by final consumption of products), and income-based (downstream emissions enabled by primary inputs of sectors) viewpoints. We also quantify relative contributions of socioeconomic factors to the US’s GHG emission changes during 1995–2009 from both the consumption and supply sides, using structural decomposition analysis (SDA). Results show that income-based method can identify new critical sectors leading to GHG emissions (e.g., Renting of Machinery & Equipment and Other Business Activities and Financial Intermediation sectors) which are unidentifiable by production-based and consumption-based methods. Moreover, the supply side SDA reveals new factors for GHG emission changes: mainly production output structure representing product allocation pattern and primary input structure indicating sectoral shares in primary inputs. In addition to production-side and consumption-side GHG reduction measures, the U.S. should also pay attention to supply side measures such as influencing the behaviors of product allocation and primary inputs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7535-7545
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Issue number14
Early online date8 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jul 2016

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