Material Footprint of Chinese Urban Households

Material Footprint of Chinese Urban Households

Jingru Liu

Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China, People’s Republic of

Since the open door policy was taken in 1978, China’s consumption structure has hanged remarkably in recent years. But compared with investment and export, the role of domestic consumption is still small. China’s small and decreasing consumption percentage is one of the reasons why people keep talking about “re-balancing”—the need for the economy to become driven more by consumer spending than investment and exports. In 2014, domestic consumption surpassed investment to become the strongest driving force of the Chinese economy, indicating a new growth model has already started forming as the country enters a “new normal” development era. In China, the growth rate of material use has been significant in the last two decades and has been driven in part by lifestyles that are materially intensive of consumption products. What is the resource risk of this consumption-driven development pattern in China? We will present some findings and results of material footprint analysis on Chinese urban households level. And explore the natural use patterns behind consumption behaviors. Results show that the total material footprint of Chinese urban households increased from 1.15 billion tons to 4.84 billion tons from 1992 to 2012. The per capita material footprint of Chinese urban household is 6.4 tons, which is lower than the world average household material footprint. We concluded that with income increase and policy stimulation, the natural resource needed to meet Chinese domestic consumption will keep increasing and undoubtedly put great pressure on resource shortage.