This paper examines the income-energy-SO2 emissions nexus by taking a corruption variable into account. To that end, the panel cointegration methods are applied to 29 Chinese provinces over 1999–2012. The authors´ empirical evidence shows that an increase in the number of anti-corruption cases tends to drive down SO2 emissions in China. It is also found that income growth appears to have a beneficial effect on decreasing SO2 emissions over the past two decades. Finally, energy consumption is found to increase SO2 emissions.