Journal of Resources and Ecology ›› 2017, Vol. 8 ›› Issue (6): 571-583.DOI: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764x.2017.06.003

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Synergy between Virtual Local Air Pollutants and Greenhouse Gases Emissions Embodied in China’s International Trade

CHEN Yiying1, 2, LEE Harry. F.1, WANG Ke2, PEI Qing3, ZOU Ji4   

  1. 1. Department of Geography, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong 999077, China;
    2. School of Environmental and Natural Resources, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, China;
    3. Department of Social Sciences, Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong 999077, China;
    4. National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, Beijing 100872, China
  • Received:2017-03-29 Revised:2017-09-16 Online:2017-11-30 Published:2017-11-30
  • Contact: CHEN Yixing, E-mail:; WANG Ke, E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    Research fund project of Renmin University of China (17XNA014)

Abstract: Increasing pressure from the international community to reduce carbon emissions, coupled with the need to reduce domestic air pollutants, is forcing China to deal with both sources of emissions. Air pollutants and greenhouse gases are closely linked via their common source, fossil fuels. As a result of globalization, large portions of these emissions are associated with trade. This study uses data from the World Input-Output Database (WIOD), including 27 EU countries and 13 major countries, covering the period from 2000 to 2009, and applies MRIO (Multiregional input-output) to estimate emissions embodied in China’s international trade. We focus on the synergy between LAPs (local air pollutants) and GHG consumption-based emissions, and the relationship between virtual LAPs and virtual GHGs associated with China’s international trade from 2000 to 2009. The results indicate that a strong synergistic relationship exists and that air pollutant control can serve as an endogenous mechanism to mitigating greenhouse gases. Thanks to domestic actions to control air pollutants, every ton reduction of LAP emissions related to export can save 27.1 tons of GHG emissions in 2005 over emissions efficiency levels, and can save 32.4 tons of GHG emissions in 2009 over 2005. Mitigation actions taken to reduce air pollutants could also reduce GHG emissions.

Key words: GHGs embodied in trade, Input-output analysis, synergy relationship, virtual local air pollution