The depth and breadth of China’s participation in global value chains have an important impact on the emissions of air pollutants from the production side, consumption side, and trade implications in China’s industries. Based on the global value chain accounting framework, this paper examines the path of China’s major air pollutant emissions in production and consumption during 1995–2009 and structurally decomposes the factors affecting air pollutant emissions. The results show that, firstly, both the air pollutant emissions on the production side and the air pollution emissions on the consumption side have increased significantly, and the production-side emissions have been higher than the consumption-side emissions. Secondly, the export of intermediate products shows a trend of “high pollution”, and this trend was more obvious after China’s accession to the world trade organization (WTO). Thirdly, the expansion of economic growth was the most important factor in the rapid emission of air pollutants in China and the reduction of pollution efficiency in Chinese industries depends on the increase in service inputs.
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