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Investigating the differentiated impacts of socioeconomic factors and urban forms on CO2 emissions: Empirical evidence from Chinese cities of different developmental levels

Ou, Jinpei, Liu, Xiaoping, Wang, Shaojian, Xie, Rui, Li, Xia
Journal of cleaner production 2019 v.226 pp. 601-614
anthropogenic activities, carbon dioxide, cities, data collection, decision making, greenhouse gas emissions, land use, models, planning, population distribution, population growth, socioeconomic development, socioeconomic factors, statistics, transportation, China
To reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions attributed widely to human activities, previous studies have paid great attention to the relationships between socioeconomic development, urban forms and CO2 emissions in cities, and provided relevant emission mitigation policies through the effective urban spatial planning. However, whether and how different features of urban forms (such as compactness) affecting the levels of CO2 emissions is still debatable, specifically considering the different development levels of the cities. Therefore, this study is to synthetically explore how socioeconomic factors and urban forms work together to affect CO2 emissions with the consideration of differences in development levels of five city tiers in China. First, CO2 emissions in each city were derived from provincial energy statistics, radiance-calibrated nighttime light imageries, and population distribution data based on a disaggregating model. Then, a set of variables representing socioeconomic factors and urban forms were acquired from the city statistics and land use data, respectively. After obtaining the balanced dataset of these five city tiers from 1995 to 2015, the panel data analysis was finally applied to evaluate the consequences of socioeconomic factors and urban forms on CO2 emissions under different development stages. The estimation results show that the economic development, population growth, and urban land expansion are important factors that accelerating CO2 emissions in all the city tiers. Besides, irregular or fragmented structures of urban land use could result in more CO2 emissions due to the increase in potential transportation requirements in all the city tiers. Notably, an increasing concentrated pattern in the urban core is found to increase CO2 emissions in the tier-one cities, but to promote the reduction of CO2 emissions in other four city tiers. The urban spatial development with a compact and multiple-nuclei pattern is suggested to be closely linked with a lower level of CO2 emissions. Such results highlight the importance of a city's development level for decision-making involving the mitigation of CO2 emissions, and provide scientific support for building a low-carbon city from the perspective of both socioeconomic development and urban spatial planning.