Energy Cost of Living and Associated Pollution for Beijing Residents


Address correspondence to
Dr. Jingru Liu
Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences
Chinese Academy of Sciences
18 Shuangqing Road, Haidian District,
Beijing, 100085, China


China's remarkable economic growth in the last 3 decades has brought about big improvements in quality of life while simultaneously contributing to serious environmental problems. The aim of all economic activities is, ultimately, to provide the population with products and services. Analyzing environmental impacts of consumption can be valuable for illuminating underlying drivers for energy use and emissions in society. This study applies an environmentally extended input-output analysis to estimate household environmental impact (HEI) of urban Beijing households at different levels of development. The analysis covers direct and indirect energy use and emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and nitrogen oxide (NOx). On the basis of observations of how HEI varies across income groups, prospects for near-future changes in HEI are discussed. Results indicate that in 2007, an urban resident in Beijing used, on average, 52 gigajoules of total primary energy supply. The corresponding annual emissions were 4.2 tonnes CO2, 27 kilograms SO2, and 17 kilograms NOx. Of this, only 18% to 34% was used or emitted by the households directly. While the overall expenditure elasticity of energy use is around 0.9, there is a higher elasticity of energy use associated with transport. The results suggest that significant growth in HEI can be expected in the near future, even with substantial energy efficiency improvements.