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Realizing low-carbon development in a developing and industrializing region: Impacts of industrial structure change on CO2 emissions in southwest China

Tian, Xin, Bai, Fuli, Jia, Jinhu, Liu, Yang, Shi, Feng
Journal of environmental management 2019 v.233 pp. 728-738
carbon dioxide, greenhouse gas emissions, imports, industrialization, input output analysis, manufacturing, public services and goods, China
China is undergoing rapid industrial structure change, resulting in great disparities in industrialization stages and CO2 emission patterns across regions. In this study, we focused on the southwest economic zone (including Chongqing, Sichuan, Guangxi, Yunnan, and Guizhou), which is in the middle-industrialization stage and aims to mitigate CO2 emissions during strategic industrial transformation. We applied a framework with refined indicators based on input-output analysis (IOA) and structural decomposition analysis (SDA) to characterize and quantify the impact of industrial structure change on CO2 emissions during 2002–2012. In this period, construction ranked first in CO2 emission due to relatively high-carbon production structure and increasing share in final demand, which increased construction related CO2 emissions. Furthermore, we found that diversification in development and competitive industries had different impacts on CO2 emission trends. Yunnan and Guizhou experienced a transition from light manufacturing to resource-related manufacturing; therefore, CO2 emissions in resource-related manufacturing showed an increasing trend due to the extensive production structure in the two provinces, while it showed a decreasing trend in the other three provinces. Moreover, Chongqing, Sichuan, and Guangxi showed an apparent expansion trend in machinery manufacturing and related CO2 emissions, driven by investment, final demand structure, and production structure changes. Meanwhile, this zone avoided large-scale CO2 emissions in these sectors through net imports, by making good use of geographical advantages and trade structure. The CO2 emissions of the service sectors showed increasing trends due to increasing proportions in consumption structure and final demand structure. Furthermore, this led to a transition from consumer services to producer services with expansion. Among the five provinces, Chongqing had the lowest-carbon development pattern, owing to its higher technical levels of manufacturing and relatively lower-carbon production structure, which could be a reference point for rapid low-carbon economic development under middle industrialization for the other provinces or regions with the similar industrial characteristics.