A comparative study of the economy’s environmental impact between states in the USA and provinces in China

  • Feng Hao
  • Guizhen He
  • Michael Snipes


Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are one important factor that lead to climate change, and the burning of fossil fuels for many economic activities has significantly contributed to CO2 emissions. The USA and China together accounted for 43% of global CO2 emissions in 2013. This study assesses and compares how the economy has affected the environment by analyzing data for 50 states and DC in the USA and 30 provinces in China. From a longitudinal perspective, the findings show that the economy, measured by GDP per capita, contributed to CO2 emissions. Meanwhile, the impact has become relatively decoupled. From a spatial perspective, the coastal states and provinces that have higher GDP per capita tend to have less CO2 emissions. In addition, Democratic states in the USA tend to have less CO2 emissions than Republican states, after controlling for other variables. We explain the findings by referring to the various contexts at the state/provincial level, country level, and international level. To our knowledge, this is the first study to compare the environmental impact of the economy between the US states and China’s provinces. There are many political implications of these findings for both the USA and China moving forward, especially considering the recent political climate change in the USA, along with China’s continued expansion as a major global power.


China Comparative Economy Environmental impact The USA 


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Copyright information

© AESS 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of South Florida Sarasota-ManateeSarasotaUSA
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Centre for Eco-Environmental SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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