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Tracking the Spatial–Temporal Evolution of Carbon Emissions in China from 1999 to 2015: A Land Use Perspective

Li Wang (), Jie Pei (), Jing Geng () and Zheng Niu ()
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Li Wang: The State Key Laboratory of Remote Sensing Science, Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
Jie Pei: The State Key Laboratory of Remote Sensing Science, Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
Jing Geng: University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
Zheng Niu: The State Key Laboratory of Remote Sensing Science, Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China

Sustainability, 2019, vol. 11, issue 17, 1-27

Abstract: China has been a leader in global carbon emissions since 2006. The question of how to reduce emissions while maintaining stable economic growth is a serious challenge for the country. To achieve this, it is of great significance to track the spatial and temporal evolution of carbon emissions in China during recent decades, which can provide evidence-based scientific guidance for developing mitigation policies. In this study, we calculated the carbon emissions of land use in 1999–2015 using the carbon emissions factor method proposed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Kuznets curve model was used to explore the influence of economic growth and urbanization on carbon emissions at the national and provincial levels. The results indicated that (1) China’s emissions increased from 927.88 million tons (Mt) in 1999 to 2833.91 Mt in 2015 at an average annual growth rate of 12.94%, while carbon sinks grew slightly, from 187.58 Mt to 207.19 Mt. Both emissions and sinks presented significant regional differences, with the Central and Southwest regions acting as the biggest emissions and sink contributors, respectively. (2) Built-up land was the largest land carrier for carbon emissions in China, contributing over 85% to total emissions each year; and (3) at the national level, the relationships between economic growth, urbanization, and carbon emissions presented as inverted U-shaped Kuznets curves, which were also found in the majority of the 30 studied provinces. While carbon emissions may be reaching a peak in China, given the disproportionate role of built-up land in carbon emissions, efforts should be devoted to limiting urbanization and the production of associated carbon emissions.

Keywords: carbon emissions; land use; spatial–temporal changes; IPCC; environmental Kuznets curve; regional differences; China (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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