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Economic Development, Energy Consumption, and Air Pollution: A Critical Assessment in China

Yuan, Xueliang, Mu, Ruimin, Zuo, Jian, Wang, Qingsong
Human and ecological risk assessment 2015 v.21 no.3 pp. 781-798
air, air pollution, emissions, energy costs, energy efficiency, environmental performance, environmental policy, industrial wastes, models, pollutants, sulfur dioxide, sustainable development, China
Low energy efficiency, energy shortage, and energy-related environmental issues are becoming critical constraints for the sustainable development of China. This research aims for investigating the impacts of economic development on energy consumption and emissions of air pollutants in China with a comparison between China's developed regions and underdeveloped regions. The Resource and Environmental Performance Index (REPI) model is employed to analyze the performance of energy consumption, industrial waste gas, sulphur dioxide, soot, and industrial dust of selected provinces over the past 13 years. As a ratio of energy consumption or emissions of pollutants of a province and the whole country, the REPI value presents the cost of energy and environment and is not consistent with the change of absolute quantities of energy consumption or emissions of pollutants in a province. The REPI value calculated from 2000 through 2012 indicates that economic development has a certain level of impact on energy consumption and air environment but not necessarily to be negative. Economic development can improve the performance on energy consumption and air pollutants reduction as long as reasonable energy and industrial structure, improved energy efficiency, and strict environmental policies are put in place.