Economy and Policy

Hongxun Liu, Kerui Du, and Jianglong Li. 2019. “An improved approach to estimate direct rebound effect by incorporating energy efficiency: A revisit of China's industrial energy demand.” Energy Economics. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The rebound effect, or the response to energy efficiency improvement, has drawn considerable attention from economists and policymakers. However, the magnitude remains quite controversial because of the differences in the definitions and methods being used. Originating from the definition of direct rebound effect, we develop an improved approach incorporating energy efficiency. The main advantages of the proposed approach are twofold. First, it enables us to estimate the demand elasticity of useful energy service with respect to energy service price. The estimates are more consistent with the definition of rebound effect and are more effective. Second, it decomposes direct rebound effect into substitution and output channels, enabling us to further understand the microeconomic mechanisms. Applying this method, we assess the direct energy rebound effect in China’s industrial sectors. We find that the direct rebound effect for the industry is 37.0%, and the substitution and output channels contribute to 13.1% and 23.9%, respectively. Substantial variations in the magnitudes and mechanisms occur by sector. For heavy industry, most energy rebound is induced by output expansion because of its sizeable cost decrease from efficiency improvements. Unlike heavy industry, most energy rebound in light industry comes from substituting energy service for other inputs because firms in light industry are more flexible in adjusting production inputs. Our results provide evidences for the importance of energy efficiency measures, and highlight the necessity of differentiated measures according to the sectoral characteristics.
Jianglong Li, Chang Chen, and Hongxun Liu. 2019. “Transition from non-commercial to commercial energy in rural China: Insights from the accessibility and affordability.” Energy Policy, 127, Pp. 392-403. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Rural components are integral parts of China's economy, and hundreds of millions of China's residents still live in rural areas. Rural residents heavily depend on non-commercial energy due to the inaccessibility and unaffordability of commercial energy. Conventional use of solid biomass fuels threatens public health as well as environmental and ecological sustainability. Thus, rural energy transition must be promoted. By using a new dataset, we show China's rural energy transition to gain insights on where, how, and why this transition occurs in rural households. Unlike previous views, we find that after considering non-commercial energy, the per capita consumption of rural residential energy is considerably larger than that of urban counterparts. Moreover, migrations from rural to urban areas decrease rather than increase residential energy consumption. Furthermore, rural energy transition from low to high quality depresses energy consumption. Our results demonstrate how accessibility and affordability affect the fuel preferences of rural residents, thereby enabling us to identify the mechanisms of rural energy transition. We provide some insights and policy implications on the routes of China's rural energy transition, which may be further extended to other emerging and developing countries due to their similar rural energy use.
Yaowen Zhang, Ling Shao, Xudong Sun, Mengyao Han, Xueli Zhao, Jing Meng, Bo Zhang, and Han Qiao. 2018. “Outsourcing natural resource requirements within China.” Journal of Environmental Management, 228, Pp. 292-302. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Consumption demands are final drivers for the extraction and allocation of natural resources. This paper investigates demand-driven natural resource requirements and spatial outsourcing within China in 2012 by using the latest multi-regional input-output model. Exergy is adopted as a common metric for natural resources input. The total domestic resource exergy requirements amounted to 125.5 EJ, of which the eastern area contributed the largest share of 44.5%, followed by the western area (23.9%), the central area (23.0%) and the northeastern area (8.6%). Investment was the leading final demand category, accounting for 52.9% (66.4 EJ) of national total embodied resource use (ERU). The total trade volumes of embodied resource were equivalent to 69.6% of the total direct resource input (DRI), mostly transferred from the central and western regions such as Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Shaanxi and Xinjiang to the eastern regions such as Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Shanghai. The northeastern and eastern areas had physical net imports of 1213.5 PJ and 38452.6 PJ, while the central and western inland areas had physical net exports of 6364.5 PJ and 33301.5 PJ, respectively. Shanghai, Beijing, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Guangdong had prominent ERUs which respectively were 101.6, 12.6, 11.7, 8.4 and 4.3 times of their DRIs. The ERUs of Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Ningxia and Guizhou were equal to only 17.6%, 25.3%, 27.9%, 46.0% and 50.2% of their DRIs, respectively. Regional uneven development resulted in imbalanced resource requirements across China. The findings can provide a deep understanding of China's resource-driven economic development mode, and contribute to reducing regional resource footprints and their environment outcomes under the “new normal economy”.
2017 Nov 28

Film Screening of "Plastic China" and Q&A with Director WANG Jiuliang

6:30pm to 8:45pm


CGIS South, Tsai Auditorium, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA

plastic china partial poster

After the screening, Director WANG Jiuliang will attend via Skype for a Q&A with the audience moderated by Professor ZHANG Ling of Boston College and the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. The discussion will be interpreted by Canaan Morse, a Ph.D. candidate in Chinese Literature at Harvard. 

Boston-area premiere co-sponsored by the Harvard-China Project on Energy, Economy and Environment, Harvard Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; Environment in Asia Series, Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies; and Emergent Visions Film Screening Series, Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies.

Free admission to the film screening is made possible through the generous support of the Harvard Global Institute.... Read more about Film Screening of "Plastic China" and Q&A with Director WANG Jiuliang

MEP meeting


August 30, 2017

2017年8月4日,中国气候变化事务特别代表解振华主任在其北京的办公室举行了研究和政策咨询会,会晤哈佛大学中国项目的Mike McElroy和Steve Wofsy教授、项目执行总监Chris Nielsen、前哈佛大学中国项目学者张红军博士(霍兰德奈特律师事务所),以及鲁玺教授(清华大学)。议题包括:中美处理气候问题的现状以及地区政府在气候问题治理中日益重要的作用;中国不同地区碳排放控制能力的差异;碳市场与碳税收政策各自的优势和混合碳定价政策的前景;以及尝试用地球工程来解决气候问题所带来的高风险。... Read more about 同解振华特别代表和李干杰部长进行高层次会晤

Haikun Wang, Yanxu Zhang, Xi Lu, Weimo Zhu, Chris P. Nielsen, Jun Bi, and Michael B. McElroy. 2017. “Trade‐driven relocation of air pollution and health impacts in China.” Nature Communications, 8, 738. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Recent studies show that international trade affects global distributions of air pollution andpublic health. Domestic interprovincial trade has similar effects within countries, but has notbeen comprehensively investigated previously. Here we link four models to evaluate theeffects of both international exports and interprovincial trade on PM2.5pollution and publichealth across China. We show that 50–60% of China’s air pollutant emissions in 2007 wereassociated with goods and services consumed outside of the provinces where they wereproduced. Of an estimated 1.10 million premature deaths caused by PM2.5pollutionthroughout China, nearly 19% (208,500 deaths) are attributable to international exports. Incontrast, interprovincial trade leads to improved air quality in developed coastal provinceswith a net effect of 78,500 avoided deaths nationwide. However, both international exportand interprovincial trade exacerbate the health burdens of air pollution in China’s lessdeveloped interior provinces. Our results reveal trade to be a critical but largely overlookedconsideration in effective regional air quality planning for China.
Nan Zhong, Jing Cao, and Yuzhu Wang. 2017. “Traffic congestion, ambient air pollution and health: Evidence from driving restrictions in Beijing.” Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, 4, 3, Pp. 821–856. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Vehicles have recently overtaken coal to become the largest source of air pollution in urban China. Research on mobile sources of pollution has foundered due both to inaccessibility of Chinese data on health outcomes and strong identifying assumptions. To address these, we collect daily ambulance call data from the Beijing Emergency Medical Center and combine them with an idiosyncratic feature of a driving restriction policy in Beijing that references the last digit of vehicles’ license plate numbers. Because the number 4 is considered unlucky by many in China, it tends to be avoided on license plates. As a result, days on which the policy restricts license plates ending in 4 unintentionally allow more vehicles in Beijing. Leveraging this variation, we find that traffic congestion is indeed 22% higher on days banning 4 and that 24-hour average concentration of NO2 is 12% higher. Correspondingly, these short term increases in pollution increase ambulance calls by 12% and 3% for fever and heart related symptoms, while no effects are found for injuries. These findings suggest that traffic congestion has substantial health externalities in China but that they are also responsive to policy. 

smog in china nytimes


July 14, 2014

区域性气候的不断变化有可能增加中国华北地区入冬后的大气静稳现象,并因此导致了近来的极端雾霾天气。这是中国及国际大气科学学术界都在积极研究的课题,也是哈佛大学中国项目举办的主题为 “中国2035年:能源、气候与发展”的研讨会上的议题之一——该研讨会于2014年6月18日至19日在哈佛上海中心召开,集结了中国顶尖的科学家、经济学家和政策分析家。
... Read more about 《纽约时报》报道哈佛大学中国项目调研及研讨会


“中国2035年”系列讲座特邀迈克尔·斯宾塞(Michael Spence)、罗伯特·佐利克(Robert Zoellick)和陆克文(Kevin Rudd)为讲座嘉宾

June 5, 2014

... Read more about “中国2035年”系列讲座特邀迈克尔·斯宾塞(Michael Spence)、罗伯特·佐利克(Robert Zoellick)和陆克文(Kevin Rudd)为讲座嘉宾