The greenness of China: Household carbon dioxide emissions and urban development

Siqi Zheng*, Rui Wang, Edward L. Glaeser, Matthew E. Kahn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Citations (Scopus)


China urbanization is associated with both increases in per capita income and greenhouse gas emissions. This article 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 the emissions produced 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 residential carbon emissions. We use our city-specific income elasticity estimates to predict the growth of carbon emissions in China's cities.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberlbq031
Pages (from-to)761-792
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Economic Geography
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • China
  • Greenhouse gas
  • Urbanization


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