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Energy Efficiency and Economic Development in China


  • Shujie Yao

    () (School of Contemporary Chinese Studies (SCCS) University of Nottingham, UK and Xi'an Jiaotong University Xi'an, China)

  • Dan Luo

    () (School of Contemporary Chinese Studies (SCCS) University of Nottingham, UK)

  • Tyler Rooker

    () (School of Contemporary Chinese Studies (SCCS) University of Nottingham, UK)


China is now the world's second largest economy, and it is expected to overtake the United States to become the largest by 2020. What are the implications for the global environment and climate change if China surpasses the United States? There are major concerns with China's rapid rise because its economic and industrial structure is increasingly dependent on the consumption of energy, raw materials, and electricity. In 2010, China's GDP was approximately 40 percent of the United States' GDP, yet it was the world's largest polluter and the biggest consumer of energy and electricity. This implies that the energy efficiency of the Chinese economy measured by energy consumption per unit of GDP is about one-third of that of the United States and one-fourth that of the EU and Japan. If the Chinese economy continues to grow as fast as it has in the past, without changing its structure and improving energy efficiency, China's growth will cause severe damage to the global environment. This paper analyzes the evolution of energy efficiency in the Chinese economy and stresses the importance of transforming China's economic structure. © 2012 The Earth Institute at Columbia University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Shujie Yao & Dan Luo & Tyler Rooker, 2012. "Energy Efficiency and Economic Development in China," Asian Economic Papers, MIT Press, vol. 11(2), pages 99-117, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:asiaec:v:11:y:2012:i:2:p:99-117

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    Cited by:

    1. Weihui Fu, 2014. "The Impact of Emotional Intelligence, Organizational Commitment, and Job Satisfaction on Ethical Behavior of Chinese Employees," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 122(1), pages 137-144, June.
    2. Toshihiro Okubo & Yuta Watabe & Kaori Furuyama, 2016. "Export of Recyclable Materials: Evidence from Japan," Asian Economic Papers, MIT Press, vol. 15(1), pages 134-148, Winter/Sp.

    More about this item


    energy efficiency; sustainable development; China;

    JEL classification:

    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • Q43 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Energy and the Macroeconomy


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