Exploring the embodied carbon flow interactive relationships in China from an ecological network perspective: a model framework and application at provincial level Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Energy-related carbon emissions take a large proportion in China, and the interregional trade caused by provincial disparities has led to significant differences in carbon footprint (CF) and embodied carbon flows among provinces that make great bottlenecks for the balance of economic development and carbon mitigation. In this study, we developed an embodied carbon flow-based ecological network (ECFEN) model with economic trade and emission data through combining the multi-regional input-output model and ecological network analysis approach. The developed ECFEN model was applied to 30 provinces in China to quantify the interprovincial flow of carbon embodied in final goods and services and identify the ecological utility (competitive, exploitative, and exploited) and control/dependence relationships between different regions. The main findings can be summarized as follows: Firstly, Jiangsu had the highest total CF with amount of 906 Mt, which was approximately 24.5 times than that of Hainan (37 Mt). Especially, the local CF in Shandong was the largest among all of the provinces with an amount of 683 Mt. Secondly, 13 pairs of embodied carbon flow paths exceeded 20 Mt, and the remarkable embodied carbon flowed from resource-oriented regions (e.g., Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Hebei) to economically developed eastern coastal provinces and municipalities (e.g., Jiangsu, Guangdong, Beijing, Chongqing). Metallurgy and electricity, water, and gas contributed 30-80% of the total embodied carbon import and export for each province. Thirdly, the exploitative and exploited relationship dominated the ecological relationship between provinces. Meanwhile, the resource-oriented regions played the role of controllers while economically developed provinces were dependents. On the one hand, the central government could take vertical compensation measures such as financial subsidies for major exporter and controllers. On the other hand, it is necessary to take horizontal technical transfer especially from economically developed southeast coastal provinces to western underdeveloped inland area. The obtained results and policy implications are expected to provide reasonable insights for decision-makers to formulate carbon mitigation strategies under the domestic circulation strategy.

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publication date

  • July 16, 2022