PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2020, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (9): 1425-1435.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2020.09.001

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Inequality and driving forces of energy-related CO2 emissions intensity in China

JIANG Wanbei1,2(), LIU Weidong1,2,*(), LIU Zhigao1,2, HAN Mengyao1,2   

  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
  • Received:2019-07-16 Revised:2020-02-20 Online:2020-09-28 Published:2020-11-28
  • Contact: LIU Weidong;
  • Supported by:
    National Key Research and Development Program of China(2016YFA0602804);China Postdoctoral Science Foundation Funded Project(2019M650822)


Research on the driving forces of the change of CO2 emissions intensity inequality in China could provide a scientific basis for formulating sound, fair, and efficient regional carbon emission abatement strategies. This study adopted the Theil index to measure the inequality in energy-related CO2 emissions intensity in China during 2005-2015, and conducted source decomposition focusing on geographical regions, economic sectors, energy types, and explanatory factor decomposition of the inequality. The results show that China's CO2 emissions intensity gradually decreased from 2005 to 2015, but the provincial gap continued to expand. From a regional perspective, the inequality in CO2 emissions intensity is mainly found within China's northeastern, eastern, central, and western regions. Besides, the ever-expanding internal differences of CO2 emissions intensity within the eastern and the western regions increasingly became the main driver of the inequality enhancement. The industrial sector and coal were respectively the major sources of CO2 emissions intensity inequality in terms of economic sectors and energy sources, which were also the key drivers of the intensity inequality exacerbation. With regard to the determinants, the provincial differences in CO2 emissions intensity were mainly dominated by the technological development level, followed by the industrial structure and energy structure. Among them, the widening provincial differences in technology level and energy structure enhanced the inequality in CO2 emissions intensity, and the contribution of technology level was much larger than that of energy structure. The narrowing disparity among provinces in the industrial structure, however, promoted the reduction of the provincial CO2 emissions intensity inequality in China. The research results can provide a scientific basis for the formulation of China's regional emission reduction strategy.

Key words: CO2 emissions intensity, inequality, Theil index, influencing factors, China