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The Greenness of China: Household Carbon Dioxide Emissions and Urban Development

  • Siqi Zheng
  • Rui Wang
  • Edward L. Glaeser
  • Matthew E. Kahn

China urbanization is associated with both increases in per-capita income and greenhouse gas emissions. This paper uses micro data to rank 74 major Chinese cities with respect to their household carbon footprint. We find that the "greenest" cities based on this criterion are Huaian and Suqian while the "dirtiest" cities are Daqing and Mudanjiang. Even in the dirtiest city (Daqing), a standardized household produces only one-fifth of that in America's greenest city (San Diego). We find that the average January temperature is strongly negatively correlated with a city's household carbon footprint, which suggests that current regional economic development policies that bolster the growth of China's northeastern cities are likely to increase emissions. We use our city specific income elasticity estimates to predict the growth of carbon emissions in China's cities.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15621.

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Date of creation: Dec 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Siqi Zheng & Rui Wang & Edward L. Glaeser & Matthew E. Kahn, 2011. "The greenness of China: household carbon dioxide emissions and urban development," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(5), pages 761-792, September.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15621
Note: EEE
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  1. Auffhammer, Maximilian & Carson, Richard Taylor, 2004. "Forecasting the path of China's CO2 emissions using province level information," CUDARE Working Paper Series 0971, University of California at Berkeley, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Policy, revised 2007.
  2. Edward L. Glaeser & Matthew E. Kahn, 2008. "The Greenness of Cities: Carbon Dioxide Emissions and Urban Development," NBER Working Papers 14238, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Nicholas Stern, 2008. "The Economics of Climate Change," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 1-37, May.
  4. Alexander Pfaff & Shubham Chaudhuri & Howard Nye, 2004. "Household Production and Environmental Kuznets Curves – Examining the Desirability and Feasibility of Substitution," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 27(2), pages 187-200, February.
  5. Douglas Holtz-Eakin & Thomas M. Selden, 1992. "Stoking the Fires? Co2 Emissions and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 4248, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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