Energy embodied in the international trade of China: An energy input-output analysis

Hongtao Liu*, Youmin Xi, Ju'e Guo, Xia Li

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

155 Citations (Scopus)


Growing international trade has not only positively affected the People's Republic of China's (China's) economic development, but also expanded the exportation of energy embodied in goods during their production. This energy flow out will pose risks to China's rational utilization of natural resources as well as environmental protection. In this paper, we evaluate the energy embodied in goods produced in China during 1992-2005 and use input-output structural decomposition analysis to identify five key factors causing the changes of energy embodied in exports. (Direct primary energy efficiency, primary energy consumption structure, structure of intermediate inputs, structure of exports, and scale of exports.) For the three sub-periods of 1992-1997, 1997-2002, and 2002-2005, results show that China is a net exporter of energy, and the energy embodied in exports tends to increase over time. The expanding total volume of exports and increasing exports of energy-intensive goods tend to enlarge the energy embodied in exports within all three sub-periods, but these driving forces were offset by a considerable improvement of energy efficiency and changes in primary energy consumption structure from 1992 to 2002 and the effects of structure of intermediate input only in the sub-period from 1992 to 1997. From 2002 to 2005, the sharp augmentation of energy embodied in exports was driven by all the five factors. Our research has practical implications for the Chinese economy. Results of this study suggest that the energy embodied in trade should receive special attentions in energy policies design to limit the energy resource out-flow and pollution generation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3957-3964
Number of pages8
JournalEnergy Policy
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Embodied energy
  • Energy input-output analysis
  • Structural decomposition analysis


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