A Caltech Library Service

Targeted opportunities to address the climate–trade dilemma in China

Liu, Zhu and Davis, Steven J. and Feng, Kuishuang and Hubacek, Klaus and Liang, Sai and Diaz Anadon, Laura and Chen, Bin and Liu, Jingru and Yan, Jinyue and Guan, Dabo (2016) Targeted opportunities to address the climate–trade dilemma in China. Nature Climate Change, 6 (2). pp. 201-206. ISSN 1758-678X.

[img] PDF - Supplemental Material
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


International trade has become the fastest growing driver of global carbon emissions, with large quantities of emissions embodied in exports from emerging economies. International trade with emerging economies poses a dilemma for climate and trade policy: to the extent emerging markets have comparative advantages in manufacturing, such trade is economically efficient and desirable. However, if carbon-intensive manufacturing in emerging countries such as China entails drastically more CO_2 emissions than making the same product elsewhere, then trade increases global CO_2 emissions. Here we show that the emissions embodied in Chinese exports, which are larger than the annual emissions of Japan or Germany, are primarily the result of China’s coal-based energy mix and the very high emissions intensity (emission per unit of economic value) in a few provinces and industry sectors. Exports from these provinces and sectors therefore represent targeted opportunities to address the climate–trade dilemma by either improving production technologies and decarbonizing the underlying energy systems or else reducing trade volumes.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Information ReadCube access
Liu, Zhu0000-0002-8968-7050
Davis, Steven J.0000-0002-9338-0844
Feng, Kuishuang0000-0001-5139-444X
Hubacek, Klaus0000-0003-2561-6090
Additional Information:© 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. Received 12 May 2015; accepted 18 August 2015; published online 28 September 2015. This work was supported by China’s National Basic Research Program (2014CB441301), the State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (SKLURE 2015-2-6), and Natural Science Foundation of China project (41328008). Z.L. acknowledges the National Natural Science Foundation of China-NSFC 41501605, the China Sustainable Energy Program of Energy Foundation (G-1407-21749), the Giorgio Ruffolo fellowship and the support from Italy’s Ministry for Environment, Land and Sea. S.J.D. acknowledges support from the Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences Fellowships for Young International Distinguished Scientists. S.L. acknowledges the support of the Dow Sustainability Fellows Program. D.G. acknowledges the Economic and Social Research Council funded project ‘Dynamics of Green Growth in European and Chinese Cities’ (ES/L016028) and his Philip Leverhulme Prize. Contributions: Z.L., K.F. and S.J.D. designed the research. Z.L., K.F. and S.J.D. conceived the paper. K.F. and J.L. provided the data. Z.L., S.J.D., K.F. and K.H. performed the analysis. S.J.D. drew the figures. All authors contributed to writing the paper. The authors declare no competing financial interests.
Group:Resnick Sustainability Institute
Funding AgencyGrant Number
National Natural Science Foundation of China2014CB441301
State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional EcologyUNSPECIFIED
Chinese Academy of SciencesSKLURE 2015-2-6
National Natural Science Foundation of China41328008
National Natural Science Foundation of China41501605
China Sustainable Energy ProgramG-1407-21749
Giorgio Ruffolo fellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Ministero dell'Ambiente e della Tutela del Territorio e del MareUNSPECIFIED
Institute of Applied EcologyUNSPECIFIED
Dow Chemical CompanyUNSPECIFIED
Resnick Sustainability InstituteUNSPECIFIED
Economic and Social Research CouncilES/L016028
Leverhulme TrustUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20160210-144704707
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Targeted opportunities to address the climate–trade dilemma in China Zhu Liu, Steven J. Davis, Kuishuang Feng, Klaus Hubacek, Sai Liang, Laura Diaz Anadon, Bin Chen, Jingru Liu, Jinyue Yan & Dabo Guan Nature Climate Change 6, 201–206 (2016) doi:10.1038/nclimate2800
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:64384
Deposited By: Heidi Rusina
Deposited On:23 Feb 2016 01:08
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:19

Repository Staff Only: item control page