Spatiotemporal dynamics of carbon intensity from energy consumption in China

Yeqing Cheng, Zheye Wang, Xinyue Ye, Yehua Dennis Wei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


The sustainable development has been seriously challenged by global climate change due to carbon emissions. As a developing country, China promised to reduce 40%-45% below the level of the year 2005 on its carbon intensity by 2020. The realization of this target depends on not only the substantive transition of society and economy at the national scale, but also the action and share of energy saving and emissions reduction at the provincial scale. Based on the method provided by the IPCC, this paper examines the spatiotemporal dynamics and dominating factors of China's carbon intensity from energy consumption in 1997-2010. The aim is to provide scientific basis for policy making on energy conservation and carbon emission reduction in China. The results are shown as follows. Firstly, China's carbon emissions increased from 4.16 Gt to 11.29 Gt from 1997 to 2010, with an annual growth rate of 7.15%, which was much lower than that of GDP (11.72%). Secondly, the trend of Moran's I indicated that China's carbon intensity has a growing spatial agglomeration at the provincial scale. The provinces with either high or low values appeared to be path-dependent or space-locked to some extent. Third, according to spatial panel econometric model, energy intensity, energy structure, industrial structure and urbanization rate were the dominating factors shaping the spatiotemporal patterns of China's carbon intensity from energy consumption. Therefore, in order to realize the targets of energy conservation and emission reduction, China should improve the efficiency of energy utilization, optimize energy and industrial structure, choose the low-carbon urbanization approach and implement regional cooperation strategy of energy conservation and emissions reduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)631-650
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Geographical Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


  • China
  • carbon intensity
  • spatial autocorrelation
  • spatial panel model
  • spatiotemporal dynamics


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