Open Access


Research Article

Main Article Content

LongNi Liang
MingXu Wangcorresponding author
WeastSiu Siu


From 2007 to 2017, Guangdong exports grew at an average rate of 9.6%, while the energy consumption and carbon emission embodied in these trades demonstrated a declining trend. Is total real pollution embodied in exports showing the same trend? If so, what accounts for these changes? Prior studies have provided three explanations, producing greater amount of goods (“the scale effect”), adopting cleaner technologies in production processes (“the technology effect”), and producing proportionally more goods that are environmental-friendly (“the structural effect”). Question then arises as which factor is the driving force of such cleanup in the export business? To answer these questions, an EIO-LMDI (Environmental Input-Output and Logarithmic Mean Divisia Index) model is built to conduct a structural decomposition analysis of pollution embodied in Guangdong exports. We calculate that the pollution embodied in Guangdong export fell by 63 to 85 percent, depending on the pollutants. We further conclude that these pollution reductions are primarily driven by the technology advancement, with some industries, including the clothing industry, communications, computers and other electronic equipment, being more sensitive to the changes in technologies than others. The structural effect is more ambiguous. It only contributes to pollution reduction when the industry itself is pollution intensive.

exports, embodied pollution, technology effect, IO-LMDI

Article Details

Supporting Agencies
This work was supported by Special Fund Project for Science and Technology Innovation Strategy of Guangdong Province (Grant No.2019 B121205004).
How to Cite
Liang, L., Wang, M., & Siu, W. (2021). Why is pollution embodied in Guangdong exports declining? The roles of trading scale, technology and structural changes. Resources and Environmental Economics, 3(1), 229-238.


  1. Bureau of Statistics of Guangdong (GDSTATS), 2019. Guangdong Statistical Yearbook 2019.
  2. Tang ZP, Zou JL andWu S. What drove changes in the embodied energy consumption of Guangdong’s exports from 2007-2012? Sustainability, 2018, 10(8): 2755-2770.
  3. Yang L, Du P and Xia B. Study on the embodied energy consumption and trade in Guangdong province based on input-output model. Science and Technology Management Research, 2014, 13: 224-228. (in Chinese)
  4. Wang PT. Estimates and analysis of embodied carbon in the import and export trade of Guangdong province. Journal of South China University of Technology, 2013, 15(5): 15-25. (in Chinese)
  5. Tang DC, Wang Y, Zhong FX, et al. Decomposition Analysis on embodied carbon in Guangdong’s foreign trade based on the IO-SDA model. Forum on Science and Technology in China, 2014, 1: 140-146.
  6. Grossman GM and Kreuger AB. Environmental impacts of a North American Free Trade Agreement. In the Mexico-US Free Trade Agreement, ed. Peter M. Garber, 13-56. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1993.
  7. Copeland BR and Taylor MS. Trade and the environment: examining consumption, regulations and the role of NAFTA. Ecological economics, 2003, 48(4): 439-450.
  8. Levinson A. Technology, international trade, and the pollution from US Manufacturing. The American Economics Review, 2009, 99(5): 2177-2192.
  9. Wang L andWu JT. The export structure of Guangdong and how it changed from 2008-2016. Industrial and Science Tribune, 2018, 22(17): 72-75. (in Chinese)
  10. Ang BW. Decomposition analysis for policymaking in energy: which is the preferred method? Energy Policy, 2004, 32: 1131-1139.
  11. Ang BW and Liu N. Handling zero values in the logarithmic mean Divisia index decomposition approach. Energy Policy, 2007, 35: 238-246.
  12. Leontief W. Environmental Repercussions and the Economic Structure: An Input-Output Approach. The Review of Economics and Statistics, 1970, 52(3): 262-271.
  13. Bureau of Statistics of Guangdong. Guangdong Industrial Input-Output Matrix of 2007-2017, 2020.
  14. Bureau of Statistics of Guangdong (GDSTATS). Guangdong Statistical Yearbook 2007, 2008.
  15. Bureau of Statistics of Guangdong (GDSTATS). Guangdong Statistical Yearbook 2017, 2018.