The Effects of China-EU Trade on CO2 Emissions


Production for international trade has played an important role in driving the rapid increase of Chinese CO2 emissions. This paper uses input-output analysis to quantitatively estimate the effect of the bilateral trade between China and its present largest trading partner, the European Union (EU), on both national and global CO2 emissions. The results show that under the bilateral trade, China’s emissions from 2002 to 2008 increased by 2458 MMT (6.64%), and the EU’s emissions decreased by 539 MMT (1.81%). From a global perspective, the trade led to an increase of 1919 MMT CO2 in the world’s total emissions. The trading pattern is not dominated by pollution haven effect but by the comparative advantages in factor endowments. It is suggested that a consumer responsibility-based accounting system of national CO2 inventory should be introduced in replace of the present producer responsibility-based one. In order to achieve cost efficiency in emissions reduction in the new accounting system, more CDM programs could be established.

Share and Cite:

H. Zhou, J. Cao and J. Sheng, "The Effects of China-EU Trade on CO2 Emissions," Low Carbon Economy, Vol. 4 No. 4A, 2013, pp. 14-23. doi: 10.4236/lce.2013.44A002.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] B. Shui and R. C. Harriss, “The Role of CO2 Embodiment in US-China Trade,” Energy Policy, Vol. 34, No. 18, 2006, pp. 4063-4068.
[2] B. R. Copeland and M. S. Taylor, “Trade, Growth, and the Environment,” Journal of Economic Literature, Vol. 42, No. 1, 2004, pp. 7-71.
[3] T. Wang and J. Watson, “Who Owns China’s Carbon Emissions?” Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research, No. 23, 2007, pp. 2-4.
[4] C. L. Weber, G. P. Peters, D. Guan and K. Hubacek, “The Contribution of Chinese Exports to Climate Change,” Energy Policy, Vol. 36, No. 9, 2008, pp. 3572-3577. 2008.06.009
[5] D. Guan, G. P. Peters, C. L. Weber, and K. Hubacek, “Journey to World Top Emitter: An Analysis of the Driving Forces of China’s Recent CO2 Emissions Surge,” Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 36, No. 4, 2009, Article ID: L04709.
[6] B. Lin, and C. Sun, “Evaluating Carbon Dioxide Emissions in International Trade of China,” Energy Policy, Vol. 38, No. 1, 2010, pp. 613-621.
[7] L. Yang, Y. Yan, and J. Priewe, “The Impact of China-EU Trade on Climate Change,” Geopolitics, History, and International Relations, Wuhan, 12-14 August 2011, pp. 122-138.
[8] Y. Dong, M. Ishikawa, X. Liu and C. Wang, “An Analysis of the Driving Forces of CO2 Emissions Embodied in Japan-China Trade,” Energy Policy, Vol. 38, No. 11, 2010, pp. 6784-6792.
[9] X. Liu, M. Ishikawa, C. Wang, Y. Dong and W. Liu, “Analyses of CO2 Emissions Embodied in Japan-China Trade,” Energy Policy, Vol. 38, No. 3, 2010, pp. 1510-1518. 2009.11.034
[10] Y. Li and C. N. Hewitt, “The Effect of Trade between China and the UK on National and Global Carbon Dioxide Emissions,” Energy Policy, Vol. 36, No. 6, 2008, pp. 1907-1914. j.enpol.2008.02.005
[11] I. Mongelli, G. Tassielli and B. Notarnicola, “Global Warming Agreements, International Trade and Energy/ Carbon Embodiments: An Input-Output Approach to the Italian Case,” Energy Policy, Vol. 34, No. 1, 2006, pp. 88-100.
[12] M. A. Cole, “Trade, the Pollution Haven Hypothesis and the Environmental Kuznets Curve: Examining the Linkages,” Ecological Economics, Vol. 48, No. 1, 2004, pp. 71-81. j.ecolecon.2003.09.007
[13] D. K. Kellenberg, “An Empirical Investigation of the Pollution Haven Effect with Strategic Environment and Trade Policy,” Journal of International Economics, Vol. 78, No. 2, 2009, pp. 242-255.
[14] B. Liddle, “Free Trade and the Environment-Development System,” Ecological Economics, Vol. 39, No. 1, 2001, pp. 21-36.
[15] A. Kearsley and M. Riddel, “A Further Inquiry into the Pollution Haven Hypothesis and the Environmental Kuznets Curve,” Ecological Economics, Vol. 69, No. 4, 2010, pp. 905-919.
[16] E. Dietzenbacher and K. Mukhopadhyay, “An Empirical Examination of the Pollution Haven Hypothesis for India: towards a Green Leontief Paradox?” Environmental and Resource Economics, Vol. 36, No. 4, 2007, pp. 427-449.
[17] G. P. Peters, C. Weber and J. Liu, “Construction of Chinese Energy and Emission Inventory,” Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, 2006, pp. 5939-5944.
[18] G. Huppes, J. Guinée, R. Heijungs, L. Oers, R. Kleijn and A. Tukker, “Changes in Meat Product Consumption and Production Patterns in Europe. Annex: Description of E3IOT,” TNO Report, 2008.
[19] IPCC, “Revised 1996 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories,” Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 1996.
[20] A. Smith, “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations,” Shanxi People’s Publishing House, Xi’an, 2005.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.