Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2005, Vol. 15 ›› Issue (1): 61-70.doi: 10.1360/gs050108

• Climate and Environmental Change • Previous Articles     Next Articles

CO2 emissions and their bearing on China's economic development: the long view

ZHANG Lei1, Daniel TODD2, XIE Hui1, CHEN Wenyan1, WU Yingmei1, JIANG Wei1   

  1. 1. Inst. of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;

    2. Department of Geography, The University of Manitoba, R3T 2N2, Winnipeg, Canada
  • Received:2004-08-11 Revised:2004-11-15 Online:2005-03-25 Published:2005-03-25
  • Supported by:

    National Basic Research Priorities Programme of China, No.2002CB412507; Research Program of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, No.973-2002CB412507


Greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions in China have aroused much interest, and not least in recent evidence of their reduction. Our intent is to place that reduction in a larger context, that of the process of industrialization. A lengthy time perspective is combined with a cross-sectional approach-China plus five other countries-and addressed through two general models. The findings are salutary. First, they suggest that a diversified economic structure is consistent with diminished intensity in energy use. Secondly, and the obverse of the first, they imply that a diversified energy structure promotes reductions in CO2 emissions. Finally, one is led inevitably to the conclusion that, together, the findings point to a path for countries to transform their economies while at the same time undertaking to drastically moderate their energy use, switching from a pattern of heavy carbon emissions to one in which lighter carbon emissions prevail. The implications of such findings for environmental management are enormous.

Key words: China, structural change, energy use, CO2 emissions, industrialization