China has become the second-largest economy in the world; however, the price of its rapid economic development has been a rise in serious environmental pollution, with air quality being a major public issue in many regions. However, few previous energy and environmental sustainability studies have included the Air Quality Index (AOI) and in particular CO2 and PM2.5 emissions in their calculations and few have included regional differences, as these are difficult to describe using radial and non-radial methods. In this paper, DEA (Data Envelopment Analysis) is used to assess the energy and economic efficiencies of Chinese provinces and cities, in which the environmental pollution source variable is CO2, and the main methods applied are radial (CCR or BCC) and non-radial SBM (Slacks Based Measures). Different from past studies, this study used both a Meta Undesirable EBM (Epsilon-Based measure) method to overcome the radial and non-radial errors and geographical differences and AQI environmental pollution indicators to accurately assess the economic, energy, and environmental efficiencies. It was found that: (1) Guangzhou and Shanghai had the best four-year efficiencies, (2) the energy efficiency differences in each city were large and there was a significant need for improvements, (3) the GDP efficiencies in each city were high, indicating that all cities had strong economic development, (4) the CO2 efficiencies indicated that around half the cities had had sustained improvements, (5) the AQI efficiencies in each city were low and there was a significant need for improvement, and (6) the technological differences between the cities were large, with the efficiencies in the high-income cities being much higher than in the low-income cities.
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