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Rural residential CO2 emissions in China: Where is the major mitigation potential?


  • Liu, Wenling
  • Wang, Can
  • Mol, Arthur P.J.


Despite high-speed economic growth in recent decades, rural China is still confronted with persisting poverty, alongside energy shortages and environmental degradation. In tackling climate change, carbon emissions from rural energy use have been given little attention up till now. This paper provides an analysis of rural residential CO2 emissions in China based on diverse accounting methods, and employs the geographic information system (GIS) to map emissions of each province. Identifying the major emission sources could provide a basis for understanding the potential for greenhouse gas emission reduction and proposing related policy recommendations. The results showed that the largest GHG mitigation potential can be found at traditional biomass use among residents. Four emission reduction policy strategies are identified: (i) shifting to commercial energy; (ii) furthering the use of decentralized renewable energy options; (iii) commercializing biomass energy via biomass power generation, biomass briquettes and biogas production; (iv) improving the combustion efficiency of traditional biomass use in household appliances. Differences in resource endowment and local economic conditions created varied levels of rural residential greenhouse gas emission, the related mitigation potential, and the kinds of strategies and policies that need to be developed in the Chinese provinces.

Suggested Citation

  • Liu, Wenling & Wang, Can & Mol, Arthur P.J., 2012. "Rural residential CO2 emissions in China: Where is the major mitigation potential?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 223-232.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:51:y:2012:i:c:p:223-232
    DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2012.05.045

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Han, Jingyi & Mol, Arthur P.J. & Lu, Yonglong & Zhang, Lei, 2008. "Small-scale bioenergy projects in rural China: Lessons to be learnt," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(6), pages 2154-2162, June.
    2. Han, Jingyi & Mol, Arthur P.J. & Lu, Yonglong, 2010. "Solar water heaters in China: A new day dawning," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 383-391, January.
    3. Zhang, Lixiao & Yang, Zhifeng & Chen, Bin & Chen, Guoqian, 2009. "Rural energy in China: Pattern and policy," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 34(12), pages 2813-2823.
    4. Foley, G., 1995. "Photovoltaic Applications in Rural Areas of the Developing World," Papers 304, World Bank - Technical Papers.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hu, Zongyi & Tang, Liwei, 2013. "Exploring the relation between urbanization and residential CO2 emissions in China: a PTR approach," MPRA Paper 55379, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Kileber, Solange & Parente, Virginia, 2015. "Diversifying the Brazilian electricity mix: Income level, the endowment effect, and governance capacity," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 1180-1189.
    3. Li, Jianglong & Chen, Chang & Liu, Hongxun, 2019. "Transition from non-commercial to commercial energy in rural China: Insights from the accessibility and affordability," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 392-403.
    4. Chen, Jiandong & Cheng, Shulei & Song, Malin, 2017. "Decomposing inequality in energy-related CO2 emissions by source and source increment: The roles of production and residential consumption," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 698-710.
    5. Grunewald, Nicole & Klasen, Stephan & Martínez-Zarzoso, Inmaculada & Muris, Chris, 2017. "The Trade-off Between Income Inequality and Carbon Dioxide Emissions," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 249-256.
    6. Min He & Pei Liu & Linwei Ma & Chinhao Chong & Xu Li & Shizhong Song & Zheng Li & Weidou Ni, 2018. "A Systems Analysis of the Development Status and Trends of Rural Household Energy in China," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(7), pages 1-23, July.
    7. Liang Meng & Ahmed Alengebawy & Ping Ai & Keda Jin & Mengdi Chen & Yulong Pan, 2020. "Techno-Economic Assessment of Three Modes of Large-Scale Crop Residue Utilization Projects in China," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 13(14), pages 1-19, July.
    8. Zhang, Ming & Su, Bin, 2016. "Assessing China's rural household energy sustainable development using improved grouped principal component method," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 509-514.
    9. Liu, Wenling & Spaargaren, Gert & Heerink, Nico & Mol, Arthur P.J. & Wang, Can, 2013. "Energy consumption practices of rural households in north China: Basic characteristics and potential for low carbon development," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 128-138.

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    CO2 emission; Rural residential energy; Biomass;

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