Carbon emission imbalances and the structural paths of Chinese regions

Ling Shao, Yuan Li, Kuishuang Feng, Jing Meng, Yuli Shan, Dabo Guan

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As the Chinese regions become more and more connected to each other and foreign countries, this study aims to address carbon imbalance and outsourcing issues in China. Using a production-based carbon emission inventory and a China-global multi-regional input-output model, this study estimates the consumption-based carbon emissions in 30 Chinese regions in 2007 and 2010. Our results reveal that the carbon imbalances of most Chinese provinces and cities have decreased between 2007 and 2010, but disparities in the regional per capita carbon footprint have widened. Our Structural Path Analysis (SPA) results shows that most Chinese regions have higher ratios of both imported (to consumption-based) and exported (to production-based) carbon emissions in further upstream supplier tiers than that of direct imports and exports in the first tier, thus it's vital to trace emissions in the upstream supply chain to understand emission outsourcing. Our result from four case study provinces suggests that Beijing should import more electricity products from nearby Hebei and Shandong rather than Inner Mongolia to lower its consumption-based carbon emissions given the smaller emission coefficients of their electricity production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)396-404
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Energy
Early online date20 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


  • Carbon emission imbalance
  • Carbon emission pathways
  • Consumption-based carbon emissions
  • Production-based carbon emissions
  • Structural path analysis

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