Publication Details

Liu, Y., Jayanthakumaran, K. & Neri, F. (2013). Who is responsible for the CO2 emissions that China produces?. Energy Policy, 62 (2013), 1412-1419.


Most climate scientists around the world are concerned about global warming. These concerns have resulted in calls for reductions in CO2 emissions over time. If these calls are to be heeded, an appropriate emissions accounting method must first be agreed upon by CO2 emitting countries, none of which are more important than China. This paper estimates China′s CO2 emissions in 2002 and in 2007 using firstly a production-based, and then a consumption-based, accounting method, both in aggregate and at the sectoral industry level. Our objectives are first to investigate the recent trends in Chinese emissions of CO2, and second to reveal the extent of the differences in the estimates produced by these two methods. Our estimates confirm what others have found, namely that Chinese emissions of CO2 increased substantially over this relatively short time period. Furthermore, the consumption-based method results in China being responsible for 38% fewer emissions in 2007 than would be the case with the production-based method. Problems caused by global warming will only be ameliorated if an acceptable worldwide distribution of responsibilities for emissions reduction efforts can be found. We believe that the consumption based method is more appropriate because it allocates responsibilities according to final consumption.

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