Resources Science ›› 2021, Vol. 43 ›› Issue (4): 710-721.doi: 10.18402/resci.2021.04.06

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Regional disparity and decoupling evolution of China’s carbon emissions by province

HAN Mengyao1,2,3, LIU Weidong1,2,3(), XIE Yitian4, JIANG Wanbei1,2   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    3. College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    4. School of Economics and Management, China University of Geoscience, Beijing 100083, China
  • Received:2020-06-22 Revised:2020-09-19 Online:2021-04-25 Published:2021-06-25
  • Contact: LIU Weidong


The carbon emission reduction target of a country/region depends on the relationship between economic growth and carbon emission decline, and the relative decoupling between carbon emissions and economic development is an essential guarantee to achieve China’s carbon emission targets. Based on the Theil index and Tapio model, this work examined the relationship between China’s carbon emissions and economic development, and analyzed the regional disparity and decoupling evolution of carbon emissions by province during 2005 and 2017. The main conclusions are as follows: (1) The carbon emissions and economic development of most regions in China kept increasing, while the carbon emission intensities kept decreasing; (2) Although the regional disparity in the economic development of China’s provinces narrowed, the carbon emission disparity, especially the cross-regional disparity expanded by year; (3) The decoupling status of most provinces changed from expansive negative decoupling, expansive coupling, to weak decoupling, but the decoupling stability of some provinces was relatively low; (4) Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing, Zhejiang, and Shandong were constantly approaching a strong decoupling status, however, the decoupling status in some other regions still alternated between expansive coupling and expansive negative decoupling. This study would be useful for identifying the relationship between carbon emissions and economic development in different regions and for implementing feasible low-carbon development strategies combined with different carbon emission and economic development levels, which are expected to provide practical implications to achieve the carbon peak and carbon neutral targets.

Key words: carbon emissions, provincial disparity, Theil index, decoupling evolution, China