Black carbon emissions and reduction potential in China: 2015–2050

Publication Type

Journal Article

Date Published





Black carbon is a product of the incomplete combustion of carbonaceous fuels and has significant adverse effects on climate change, air quality, and human health. China has been a major contributor to global anthropogenic black carbon emissions. This study develops a black carbon inventory in China, using 2015 as the base year, and projects annual black carbon emissions in China for the period 2016–2050, under two scenarios: a Reference scenario and an Accelerated Reduction scenario. The study estimates that the total black carbon emissions in China in 2015 were 1100 thousand tons (kt), with residential use being the biggest contributor, accounting for more than half of the total black carbon emissions, followed by coke production, industry, agricultural waste burning, and transportation. This study then projects the total black carbon emissions in China in 2050 to be 278 kt in the Reference scenario and 86 kt in the Accelerated Reduction Scenario. Compared to the Reference scenario, the Accelerated Reduction scenario will achieve much faster and deeper black carbon reductions in all the sectors. The dramatic reductions can be attributed to the fuel switching in the residential sector, faster implementation of high-efficiency emission control measures in the industry, transportation, and coke production sectors, and faster phase-out of agricultural waste open burning. This analysis reveals the high potential of black carbon emission reductions across multiple sectors in China through the next thirty years.


Journal of Environmental Management



Year of Publication




An open-access version published in the Journal of Environmental Management can be downloaded here


Research Areas