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Volume 15, issue 10
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 15, 5443-5456, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-15-5443-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 15, 5443-5456, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-15-5443-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 19 May 2015

Research article | 19 May 2015

Assessment of China's virtual air pollution transport embodied in trade by using a consumption-based emission inventory

H. Y. Zhao1, Q. Zhang1, D. B. Guan3,1, S. J. Davis2, Z. Liu4, H. Huo5, J. T. Lin6, W. D. Liu7, and K. B. He8,9 H. Y. Zhao et al.
  • 1Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Earth System Modeling, Center for Earth System Science, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China
  • 2Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA, USA
  • 3Center for Climate Change Economics and Policy, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
  • 4Sustainability Science Program and Energy Technology Innovation Policy Project, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
  • 5Institute of Energy, Environment and Economy, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China
  • 6Laboratory for Climate and Ocean-Atmosphere Studies, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, School of Physics, Peking University, Beijing, China
  • 7Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 8State Key Joint Laboratory of Environment Simulation and Pollution Control, School of Environment, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China
  • 9State Environmental Protection Key Laboratory of Sources and Control of Air Pollution Complex, Beijing, China

Abstract. Substantial anthropogenic emissions from China have resulted in serious air pollution, and this has generated considerable academic and public concern. The physical transport of air pollutants in the atmosphere has been extensively investigated; however, understanding the mechanisms how the pollutant was transferred through economic and trade activities remains a challenge. For the first time, we quantified and tracked China's air pollutant emission flows embodied in interprovincial trade, using a multiregional input–output model framework. Trade relative emissions for four key air pollutants (primary fine particle matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and non-methane volatile organic compounds) were assessed for 2007 in each Chinese province. We found that emissions were significantly redistributed among provinces owing to interprovincial trade. Large amounts of emissions were embodied in the imports of eastern regions from northern and central regions, and these were determined by differences in regional economic status and environmental policy. It is suggested that measures should be introduced to reduce air pollution by integrating cross-regional consumers and producers within national agreements to encourage efficiency improvement in the supply chain and optimize consumption structure internationally. The consumption-based air pollutant emission inventory developed in this work can be further used to attribute pollution to various economic activities and final demand types with the aid of air quality models.

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