Dynamic disparities in clean energy use across rural–urban, regional, and ethnic boundaries in China

Xiaodong Chen, Yu Xie, Qiong Wu, Yan Sun, Jianguo Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The consequences of relying on solid fuels are disproportionately borne by minorities, the marginalized, and rural communities. However, the social disparities in transitioning from polluting energy to clean energy are not well understood. We track changes in the main energy source used for cooking among Chinese households between 2010 and 2018. We find that the proportion of households who rely on clean energy increased from 53.7% in 2010 to 80.1% in 2018. We detect substantial disparities in clean energy use between rural and urban areas, across regions, and between ethnic minorities and the Han majority. Urban status, regional variations, and household characteristics entirely accounted for the observed ethnic differences in clean energy use. Over time, disparities across rural–urban, regional, and ethnic boundaries declined, and household characteristics became irrelevant to the ethnic differences. Therefore, China’s efforts to mitigate the imbalance in socioeconomic development also reduced ethnic inequalities in clean energy use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168-179
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Chemistry


  • Energy transition
  • Inequality
  • Solid fuels
  • Sustainable development goals (SDGs)


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