UCL Discovery
UCL home » Library Services » Electronic resources » UCL Discovery

Gains in China's sustainability by decoupling economic growth from energy use

Zhao, Jinqi; Zhang, Yuanyuan; He, Xiaojia; Axmacher, Jan Christoph; Sang, Weiguo; (2024) Gains in China's sustainability by decoupling economic growth from energy use. Journal of Cleaner Production , 448 , Article 141765. 10.1016/j.jclepro.2024.141765.

[thumbnail of Axmacher_ Gains in China's sustainability by decoupling economic growth from energy use_AAM.pdf] Text
Axmacher_ Gains in China's sustainability by decoupling economic growth from energy use_AAM.pdf
Access restricted to UCL open access staff until 15 March 2025.

Download (2MB)

Abstract

China's adoption of an “ecological civilization” strategy since 2012 demonstrates its vision to move toward more sustainable development models while promoting green energy and strengthening environmental protection. However, China's continuing heavy reliance on fossil fuels, especially coal, masks the complex positive trends in energy use, more sustainable economic development, and environmental management. Through examining the evolving energy-GDP relationships in China over the past few decades, we elucidated the underlying complex nonlinear processes using environmental Kuznets curve analysis and showed that the energy–GDP relationship has fluctuated between positive and negative decoupling. Furthermore, fluctuating trajectories manifested as sharp regional divergences when early-transitioning coastal areas restructured toward services and exhibited robust decoupling, whereas the industrial interior remained fossil fuel reliant. We identified various forces related to these provincial disparities, where rapid urbanization, industrial realignment, and income growth were all important. By promoting service transitions and enabling low-carbon technologies in coastal hubs, these drivers also exposed infrastructure deficits and entrenched fossil fuel usage in the interior. These problems led to China's latest strategic plans emphasizing “higher quality” growth underpinned by clean energy transitions and coordinated regional policies. Ongoing declines in coal and the rise in renewable energy usage highlight promising momentum, but stable decoupling remains contingent on sustained policy coordination. The intricate balance between growth and environmental pressures in China provides essential lessons to help emerging economies achieve sustainability by catalyzing green transitions and attaining developmental milestones.

Type: Article
Title: Gains in China's sustainability by decoupling economic growth from energy use
DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2024.141765
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2024.141765
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
Keywords: Decoupling, Energy–GDP relationship, Environmental kuznets curve, Fossil fuel, Sustainable development
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Geography
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10189300
Downloads since deposit
1Download
Download activity - last month
Download activity - last 12 months
Downloads by country - last 12 months

Archive Staff Only

View Item View Item