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China's annual energy-related carbon emissions surpassed those of the United States in 2006, years ahead of published international and Chinese forecasts. Why were forecasts so greatly in error and what drove the rapid growth of China's energy-related carbon emissions after 2001? The divergence between actual and forecasted carbon emissions underscores the rapid changes that have taken place in China's energy system since 2001. In order to build a more robust understanding of China's energy-related carbon emissions, this article reviews the role of economic restructuring, urbanization, coal dependence, international trade, and central government policies in driving emissions growth.