Sustainable Development Goals


China’s emissions examined by collaboration with Peking University

A joint research collaboration with one of UCL’s Strategic Partners, Peking University, examined the impact of the global financial crisis on China’s economy – and how that affected its CO2 emissions.

an image of a factory with emissions

26 February 2021

Dr Zhifu Mi (UCL Bartlett School) collaborated with colleague Professor Shu Tao (College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, PKU) on a joint research project exploring how China’s economy affected its carbon emissions.

“The economy of China was affected by the 2008 global financial crisis, resulting in a gradual decline in economic growth,” says Dr Mi. “Afterwards; the country entered a new phase of economic development – a new normal – in which its economic development mode changed greatly.”

The joint project – China’s Carbon Emissions in the New Development Phase – estimated China’s production-based and consumption-based carbon emissions in this ‘new normal’ and explored the driving factors behind emission changes.

The team analysed multiple factors, from economic growth and energy efficiency, to industrial structure and population.

Patterns and pathways of China’s emissions have large impacts on global climate change mitigation.

The joint research revealed that China’s annual growth in carbon emissions declined from 10% (2002–2012) to 0.3% (2012–2017).

The team be attributed the recent slowdown in emission growth to China’s decelerating annual growth rate of gross domestic product per capita from 12% (2002–2012) to 6% (2012–2017). “We found that gains in energy efficiency were the most important contributing factor, offsetting the increase by 49% during 2012–2017,” added Dr Mi.

The project received a grant from the UCL-PKU Strategic Partner Funds, which supports researchers at UCL and PKU who are collaborating to address global challenges. The Funds are part of UCL’s deep strategic partnership with Peking University (PKU).