Black carbon emissions in China

David G. Streets, Shalini Gupta, Stephanie T. Waldhoff, Michael Q. Wang, Tami C. Bond, Bo Yiyun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Black carbon (BC) is an important aerosol species because of its global and regional influence on radiative forcing and its local effects on the environment and human health. We have estimated the emissions of BC in China, where roughly one-fourth of global anthropogenic emissions is believed to originate. China's high rates of usage of coal and biofuels are primarily responsible for high BC emissions. This paper pays particular attention to the application of appropriate emission factors for China and the attenuation of these emissions where control devices are used. Nevertheless, because of the high degree of uncertainty associated with BC emission factors, we provide ranges of uncertainty for our emission estimates, which are approximately a factor of eight. In our central case, we calculate that BC emissions in China in 1995 were 1342Gg, about 83% being generated by the residential combustion of coal and biofuels. We estimate that BC emissions could fall to 1224Gg by 2020. This 9% decrease in BC emissions can be contrasted with the expected increase of 50% in energy use; the reduction will be obtained because of a transition to more advanced technology, including greater use of coal briquettes in place of raw coal in cities and towns. The increased use of diesel vehicles in the future will result in a greater share of the transport sector in total BC emissions. Spatially, BC emissions are predominantly distributed in an east-west swath across China's heartland, where the rural use of coal and biofuels for cooking and heating is widespread. This is in contrast to the emissions of most other anthropogenically derived air pollutants, which are closely tied to population and industrial centers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4281-4296
Number of pages16
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number25
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Biofuels
  • Black carbon
  • China
  • Coal combustion
  • Emission factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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