Publications

2014
Yanxia Zhang, Haikun Wang, Sai Liang, Ming Xu, Weidong Liu, Shalang Li, Rongrong Zhang, Chris P Nielsen, and Jun Bi. 2014. “Temporal and spatial variations in consumption-based carbon dioxide emissions in China.” Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews, 40, Pp. 60-68. Publisher's VersionAbstract

China’s CO2 emissions have sharply increased in recent years with soaring economic development and urbanization. Consumption-based accounting of CO2 emissions could provide new insights for allocating regional mitigation responsibility and curbing the emissions. A multi-regional input–output model is used to study the trends and disparities of consumption-based emissions from Chinese provinces during the period 2002–2007. Results show that China’s consumption-based CO2 emissions grew from 3549 Mt in 2002 to 5403 Mt in 2007 with an annual average growth rate of 8.8%. The annual growth rate in the richer eastern region was over 10% because of a rapid increase in capital investment and the growth of urban consumption. Consumption-based CO2 emissions embodied in interprovincial trades contributed only 10% (351 Mt) to the national total of such emissions in 2002, but 16% (864 Mt) in 2007. Given low per capita emissions currently, China’s consumption-based emissions have much room to grow because of further development of urbanization and stimulation of domestic demand. The government should pay greater attention to controlling CO2 emissions from a consumption-based perspective.

2013
Yu Zhao, Wei Wei, and Yu Lei. 2013. “An Anthropogenic Emission Inventory of Primary Air Pollutants in China for 2005 and 2010.” In Clearer Skies Over China: Reconciling Air Quality, Climate, and Economic Goals, Pp. 225-261. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Publisher's Version
Chris P Nielsen and Mun S Ho. 2013. “Atmospheric Environment in China: Introduction and Research Review.” In Clearer Skies Over China: Reconciling Air Quality, Climate, and Economic Goals, Pp. 3-58. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Publisher's Version
Yuxuan Wang. 2013. “Atmospheric Modeling of Pollutant Concentrations.” In Clearer Skies Over China: Reconciling Air Quality, Climate, and Economic Goals, Pp. 263-289. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Publisher's Version
Yu Lei. 2013. “Benefits to Human Health and Agricultural Productivity of Reduced Air Pollution.” In Clearer Skies Over China: Reconciling Air Quality, Climate, and Economic Goals, Pp. 291-328. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Publisher's Version
Clearer Skies Over China: Reconciling Air Pollution, Climate, and Economic Goals
2013. Clearer Skies Over China: Reconciling Air Pollution, Climate, and Economic Goals. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Publisher's Version
Jing Cao, Mun S Ho, and Dale W Jorgenson. 2013. “The Economics of Environmental Policies in China.” In Clearer Skies Over China: Reconciling Air Quality, Climate, and Economic Goals, Pp. 329-372. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Publisher's Version
Yu Zhao, Jie Zhang, and Chris P Nielsen. 2013. “The effects of recent control policies on trends in emissions of anthropogenic atmospheric pollutants and CO2 in China.” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 13, Pp. 487-508. Publisher's VersionAbstract

To examine the effects of China’s national policies of energy conservation and emission control during 2005–2010, inter-annual emission trends of gaseous pollutants, primary aerosols, and CO2 are estimated with a bottom-up framework. The control measures led to improved energy efficiency and/or increased penetration of emission control devices at power plants and other important industrial sources, yielding reduced emission factors for all evaluated species except NOx. The national emissions of anthropogenic SO2, CO, and total primary PM (particulate matter) in 2010 are estimated to have been 89%, 108%, and 87% of those in 2005, respectively, suggesting successful emission control of those species despite fast growth of the economy and energy consumption during the period. The emissions of NOx and CO2, however, are estimated to have increased by 47% and 43%, respectively, indicating that they remain largely determined by the growth of energy use, industrial production, and vehicle populations. Based on application of a Monte-Carlo framework, estimated uncertainties of SO2 and PM emissions increased from 2005 to 2010, resulting mainly from poorly understood average SO2 removal efficiency in flue gas desulfurization (FGD) systems in the power sector, and unclear changes in the penetration levels of dust collectors at industrial sources, respectively. While emission trends determined by bottom-up methods can be generally verified by observations from both ground stations and satellites, clear discrepancies exist for given regions and seasons, indicating a need for more accurate spatial and time distributions of emissions. Limitations of current emission control polices are analyzed based on the estimated emission trends. Compared with control of total PM, there are fewer gains in control of fine particles and carbonaceous aerosols, the PM components most responsible for damages to public health and effects on radiative forcing. A much faster decrease of alkaline base cations in primary PM than that of SO2 may have raised the acidification risks to ecosystems, indicating further control of acid precursors is required. Moreover, with relatively strict controls in developed urban areas, air pollution challenges have been expanding to less-developed neighboring regions. There is a great need in the future for multipollutant control strategies that combine recognition of diverse environmental impacts both in urban and rural areas with emission abatement of multiple species in concert. To examine the effects of China’s national policies of energy conservation and emission control during 2005–2010, inter-annual emission trends of gaseous pollutants, primary aerosols, and CO2 are estimated with a bottom-up framework. The control measures led to improved energy efficiency and/or increased penetration of emission control devices at power plants and other important industrial sources, yielding reduced emission factors for all evaluated species except NOx. The national emissions of anthropogenic SO2, CO, and total primary PM (particulate matter) in 2010 are estimated to have been 89%, 108%, and 87% of those in 2005, respectively, suggesting successful emission control of those species despite fast growth of the economy and energy consumption during the period. The emissions of NOx and CO2, however, are estimated to have increased by 47% and 43%, respectively, indicating that they remain largely determined by the growth of energy use, industrial production, and vehicle populations. Based on application of a Monte-Carlo framework, estimated uncertainties of SO2 and PM emissions increased from 2005 to 2010, resulting mainly from poorly understood average SO2 removal efficiency in flue gas desulfurization (FGD) systems in the power sector, and unclear changes in the penetration levels of dust collectors at industrial sources, respectively. While emission trends determined by bottom-up methods can be generally verified by observations from both ground stations and satellites, clear discrepancies exist for given regions and seasons, indicating a need for more accurate spatial and time distributions of emissions. Limitations of current emission control polices are analyzed based on the estimated emission trends. Compared with control of total PM, there are fewer gains in control of fine particles and carbonaceous aerosols, the PM components most responsible for damages to public health and effects on radiative forcing. A much faster decrease of alkaline base cations in primary PM than that of SO2 may have raised the acidification risks to ecosystems, indicating further control of acid precursors is required. Moreover, with relatively strict controls in developed urban areas, air pollution challenges have been expanding to less-developed neighboring regions. There is a great need in the future for multipollutant control strategies that combine recognition of diverse environmental impacts both in urban and rural areas with emission abatement of multiple species in concert.

Chris P Nielsen and Mun S Ho. 2013. “Op-ed: Clearing the air in China.” New York Times (Sunday Review), October 27 , Pp. SR4. Publisher's Version
Xi Lu, Michael B. McElroy, Chris P Nielsen, Xinyu Chen, and Junling Huang. 2013. “Optimal integration of offshore wind power for a steadier, environmentally friendlier, supply of electricity in China.” Energy Policy, 62, Pp. 131–138. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Demand for electricity in China is concentrated to a significant extent in its coastal provinces. Opportunities for production of electricity by on-shore wind facilities are greatest, however, in the north and west of the country. Using high resolution wind data derived from the GEOS-5 assimilation, this study shows that investments in off-shore wind facilities in these spatially separated regions (Bohai-Bay or BHB, Yangtze-River Delta or YRD, Pearl-River Delta or PRD) could make an important contribution to overall regional demand for electricity in coastal China. An optimization analysis indicates that hour-to-hour variability of outputs from a combined system can be minimized by investing 24% of the power capacity in BHB, 30% in YRD and 47% in PRD. The analysis suggests that about 28% of the overall off-shore wind potential could be deployed as base load power replacing coal-fired system with benefits not only in terms of reductions in CO2 emissions but also in terms of improvements in regional air quality. The interconnection of off-shore wind resources contemplated here could be facilitated by China's 12th-five-year plan to strengthen inter-connections between regional electric-power grids.

Yu Zhao. 2013. “Primary Air Pollutant Emissions of Coal-Fired Power Plants in China.” In Clearer Skies Over China: Reconciling Air Quality, Climate, and Economic Goals, Pp. 161-202. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Publisher's Version
Yu Lei, Qiang Zhang, Chris P Nielsen, and Kebin He. 2013. “Primary Air Pollutants and CO2 Emissions from Cement Production in China.” In Clearer Skies Over China: Reconciling Air Quality, Climate, and Economic Goals, Pp. 203-224. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Publisher's Version
Chris P Nielsen, Mun S Ho, Jing Cao, Yu Lei, Yuxuan Wang, and Yu Zhao. 2013. “Summary: Carbon Taxes for 2013-2020.” In Clearer Skies Over China: Reconciling Air Quality, Climate, and Economic Goals, Pp. 103-157. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Publisher's Version
Chris P Nielsen, Mun S Ho, Yu Zhao, Yuxuan Wang, Yu Lei, and Jing Cao. 2013. “Summary: Sulfur Mandates and Carbon Taxes for 2006-2010.” In Clearer Skies Over China: Reconciling Air Quality, Climate, and Economic Goals, Pp. 59-102. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Publisher's Version
Xuan Wang, Yuxuan Wang, Jiming Hao, Yutaka Kondo, Martin Irwin, J. William Munger, and Yongjing Zhao. 2013. “Top-down estimate of China's black carbon emissions using surface observations: Sensitivity to observation representativeness and transport model error.” Journal of Geophysical Research, 118, 11, Pp. 5781-5795. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This study examines the sensitivity of “top-down” quantification of Chinese black carbon (BC) emissions to the temporal resolution of surface observations and to the transport model error associated with the grid resolution and wet deposition. At two rural sites (Miyun in North China Plain and Chongming in Yangtze River Delta), the model-inferred emission bias based on hourly BC observations can differ by up to 41% from that based on monthly mean observations. This difference relates to the intrinsic inability of the grid-based model in simulating high pollution plumes, which often exert a larger influence on the arithmetic mean of observations at monthly time steps. Adopting the variation of BC to carbon monoxide correlation slope with precipitation as a suitable measure to evaluate the model's wet deposition, we found that wet removal of BC in the model was too weak, due in part to the model's underestimation of large precipitation events. After filtering out the observations during high pollution plumes and large precipitation events for which the transport model error should not be translated into the emission error, the inferred emission bias changed from −11% (without filtering) to −2% (with filtering) at the Miyun site, and from −22% to +1% at the Chongming site. Using surface BC observations from three more rural sites (located in Northeast, Central, and Central South China, respectively) as constraints, our top-down estimate of total BC emissions over China was 1.80 ± 0.65 Tg/yr in 2006, 0.5% lower than the bottom-up inventory of Zhang et al. (2009) but with smaller uncertainty.

Tao Song, Jianming Cai, Teresa Chahine, and Yu Deng. 2013. “Urban metabolism model based on the emergy theory: A case study of 31 Chinese cities.” Food, Agriculture and Environment, 11, 3&4, Pp. 2353-2361. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Urban systems, with the overall fluxes of energy, water, material, and wastes, can be modeled with a range of metabolic processes. To quantify the urban metabolism, we use the “emergy” assessment method (all materials and energy are transformed to solar energy equivalents) and then present a group of urban metabolic indicators, which quantify urban metabolic balance, capacity, and outputs to assess a city’s metabolic efficiencies. In this paper, we use 31 Chinese cities as a sample to illustrate how the model can be operated to evaluate the urban metabolism by emergy analysis. Our results indicate that metropolises and coastal cities were more metabolically efficient with higher metabolic balance, capacities, and outputs; but with more external dependency on imported resources. Central and western cities had lower metabolic efficiencies, with a high ratio of non-renewable emergy reliance. Policy implications highlight the need for renewable energy sources and improved management of imported services, goods, and fuels to achieve higher urban resilience and sustainability.

2012
Xi Lu, Michael B. McElroy, Gang Wu, and Chris P Nielsen. 2012. “Accelerated reduction of SO2 emissions from the US power sector triggered by changing prices of natural gas.” Environmental Science and Technology, 46, 14, Pp. 7882-7889. Publisher's Version

This paper is from a series investigating and comparing the prospects for low- and non-carbon power generation in China and the U.S.

Yu Zhao, Chris P Nielsen, and Michael B. McElroy. 2012. “China's CO2 emissions estimated from the bottom up: Recent trends, spatial distributions, and quantification of uncertainties.” Atmospheric Environment, 59, Pp. 214-223. Publisher's Version
Yu Zhao, Chris P Nielsen, Michael B. McElroy, Lin Zhang, and Jie Zhang. 2012. “CO emissions in China: Uncertainties and implications of improved energy efficiency and emission control.” Atmospheric Environment, 49, Pp. 103-113. Publisher's Version
Junling Huang and Michael B. McElroy. 2012. “The contemporary and historical budget of atmospheric CO2.” Canadian Journal of Physics, 90, 8, Pp. 707-716. Publisher's Version

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