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Unequal household carbon footprints in China

Wiedenhofer, Dominik and Guan, Dabo and Liu, Zhu and Meng, Jing and Zhang, Ning and Wei, Yi-Ming (2017) Unequal household carbon footprints in China. Nature Climate Change, 7 (1). pp. 75-80. ISSN 1758-678X. doi:10.1038/nclimate3165.

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Households’ carbon footprints are unequally distributed among the rich and poor due to differences in the scale and patterns of consumption. We present distributional focused carbon footprints for Chinese households and use a carbon-footprint-Gini coefficient to quantify inequalities. We find that in 2012 the urban very rich, comprising 5% of population, induced 19% of the total carbon footprint from household consumption in China, with 6.4 tCO_2/cap. The average Chinese household footprint remains comparatively low (1.7 tCO_2/cap), while those of the rural population and urban poor, comprising 58% of population, are 0.5–1.6 tCO_2/cap. Between 2007 and 2012 the total footprint from households increased by 19%, with 75% of the increase due to growing consumption of the urban middle class and the rich. This suggests that a transformation of Chinese lifestyles away from the current trajectory of carbon-intensive consumption patterns requires policy interventions to improve living standards and encourage sustainable consumption.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription ReadCube access
Liu, Zhu0000-0002-8968-7050
Meng, Jing0000-0002-9069-8988
Additional Information:© 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited. Received 29 April 2016; accepted 27 October 2016; published online 19 December 2016. This work was supported by National Key R&D Program of China (2016YFA0602603 and 2016YFA0602604), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41629501, 71521002, 41461118, 41501605), Austrian National Science funded project ‘MISO—modelling the global metabolic transition’ (P27590), the UK Economic and Social Research Council funded project ‘Dynamics of Green Growth in European and Chinese Cities’ (ES/L016028/1), the UK Natural Environment Research Council funded project ‘Integrated assessment of the emission-health-socioeconomics nexus and air pollution mitigation solutions and interventions in Beijing’ (NE/N00714X/1). Many thanks go to J. Minx, F. Krausmann and J. K. Steinberger for their feedback on the manuscript, to G. Peters for support with the global emissions data set for the GTAP-MRIO and to L. Yu for his feedback on the concordances to bridge the GTAP-MRIO and the Chinese national IOTs classifications. Author Contributions: D.W. and D.G. designed the research, performed calculations and discussed the results. D.W. wrote the paper. D.G., Z.L., J.M., N.Z. and Y.-M.W. collected data and contributed to writing the paper. The authors declare no competing financial interests.
Group:Resnick Sustainability Institute
Funding AgencyGrant Number
National Key Basic Research Program of China2016YFA0602603
National Key Basic Research Program of China2016YFA0602604
National Natural Science Foundation of China41629501
National Natural Science Foundation of China71521002
National Natural Science Foundation of China41461118
National Natural Science Foundation of China41501605
FWF Der WissenschaftsfondsP27590
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/L016028/1
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)NE/N00714X/1
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20161027-112645545
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Official Citation:Unequal household carbon footprints in China Dominik Wiedenhofer, Dabo Guan, Zhu Liu, Jing Meng, Ning Zhang & Yi-Ming Wei Nature Climate Change 7, 75–80 (2017) doi:10.1038/nclimate3165
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:71542
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:20 Dec 2016 00:34
Last Modified:11 Nov 2021 04:46

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