An Analysis of Magnitudes and Trends of Household Carbon Emissions in China Between 1995 and 2011

Document Type: Original Research Paper


1 University of Southern Queensland, Australia

2 Chinese Academy of Sciences, China

3 Lanzhou University, China


Global greenhouse gas emissions from 2000 to 2010 has grown more quickly (2.2%/yr) than in the previous three decades (1.3%/yr). China accounts for approximately 23% of global CO2 emissions and the household sector is considered the major contributor. This study conducts a time series analysis of a per person household carbon emissions (HCEs) in China during 1995 to 2011. Annual macroeconomic data for the study were obtained from Chinese government sources. Direct HCEs estimates for all fossil fuels were obtained using the IPCC’s reference approach, and indirect HCEs were calculated by input-output analysis. In 1995, per person direct and indirect HCEs for China were 0.30 tCO2 and 0.24 tCO2, respectively, and in 2011 these values had increased to 0.60 tCO2 and 1.17tCO2 respectively; an increase of 100% and 387%, respectively. This suggests that any policy based on the direct HCE sources could be misleading, highlighting a need for a comprehensive assessment of both direct and indirect sources of HCEs. A multiple regression model shows that the impact of per capita income (PCI) on per person HCEs is more significant than that of the household size. As PCI is increasing faster than household sizes are decreasing (308% vs 18% from 1990 to 2011), the impact of PCI will be dominant in the future. Therefore, while forecasting per person HCE, PCI could be used as an independent variable. As the trends of household size and PCIs are similar in many other developing countries, this conclusion could be replicated elsewhere.