(62a) A Model-Based Sustainability Study of Energy Consumption, Environmental Pollution, and Economic Growth in China

Geng, J., The Shipley School
Wang, N., Friends Select School
Chen, K., Friends Select School
Ling, S., Friends Select School
Huang, Z., Villanova University
While China was experiencing a period of fast growing economy, with the annual GDP rate jumped from 5.4% in 1980 to 10.4% in 2010 [1], it was also suffering from the deteriorating air condition such as haze pollution. According to a research conducted by QUARTZ in 2013 [2], the haze pollution in China was so severe that people could not even see their fingers in front of them. Furthermore, the air quality index (AQI) was once detected to reach 999 at 3pm on Jan 6th, 2017 in Daqing. Normally, a measure of 100 of AQI is considered unhealthy, and 300 is thought dangerous [3]. As a result, the air pollution has caused serious problems to China’s society and its people. Estimated 1.1 million people die of air pollution each year, and countless people suffer from chronic diseases such as Pneumoconiosis [4].

The tremendous consumption of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas is one of the major driving-forces for both the rapid economic growth and the deteriorating environment. In particular, the production of cements, steels, glass, electrical power, and cars that support the high GDP growth in China [5] release waste gases like SO2, CO, NO2, O3 that are essential for the haze formation in China [6]. On the other hand, different fossil fuels produce different amounts of pollutant waste gases. 81% of the electricity in China was produced from the combustion of coal [7], which stands for the major emissions of NOx, CO2, CO and SO2 [8]. It is thus necessary to provide a rational allocation of different types of fossil fuels that can sustain the economic growth in China but reduce the environmental pollution.

In order to address the aforementioned issues, we developed the following four models on the basis of the economic and environmental data for Beijing during 2001 to 2015: 1) a model to predict the production of SO2, CO, NO2, and O3 against the consumption of coal, natural gas, and gasoline (i.e., the energy-gas model); 2) a model to predict haze pollution days from the concentration of SO2, CO, NO2, and O3 (i.e., the gas-haze model); 3) a model to quantify the production of cements, steels, glass, electrical power, and cars from the consumption of coal, natural gas, and gasoline (i.e., the energy-industry model); and 4) a model to predict GDP from the production of cements, steels, glass, electrical power, and cars (i.e., the industry-GDP model). These four models were then integrated together to predict the haze days and GDP if the allocation of the fossil fuels was not adjusted in the following few years. The results provide meaningful information for energy-allocation policy makers.


[1] https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/mar/23/china-gdp-since-1980

[2] https://qz.com/137562/chinas-northeast-hit-by-air-pollution-so-bad-you-cant-see-your-own-fingers-in-front-of-you/

[3] https://qz.com/879746/pollution-in-china-daqing-sees-its-air-quality-index-aqi-spike-to-an-astounding-999/

[4] https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/05/china-air-pollution-solutions-environment-tangshan/

[5] Philip Andrews-Speed. China's ongoing energy efficiency drive: Origins, progress and prospects. Energy Policy, 37(4): 1331-1344, 2009.

[6] Kuang Xiao, Yuku Wang, Guang Wu, Bin Fu, Yuanyuan Zhu. Spatiotemporal Characteristics of Air Pollutants (PM10, PM2.5, SO2, NO2, O3, and CO) in the Inland Basin City of Chengdu, Southwest China. Atmosphere 9, 74, 2018

[7] Raymond Li, and Guy C.K.Leung. Coal consumption and economic growth in China. Energy Policy, 40: 438-443, 2012

[8] C.F. You, and X.C. Xu. Coal combustion and its pollution control in China. Energy, 35(11): 4467-4472, 2010