Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2018, Vol. 73 ›› Issue (3): 442-459.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201803005

• Surface Process and Ecological Environment • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Global carbon emissions and its environmental impact analysis based on a consumption accounting principle

ZHONG Zhangqi1,JIANG Lei1,2,HE Lingyun3,WANG Zheng4,5,BAI Ling6   

  1. 1. School of Economics, Zhejiang University of Finance & Economics, Hangzhou 310018, China;
    2. College of Economics and Management, Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Nanjing 210016, China
    3. School of Management, China University of Mining and Technology, Xuzhou 221116, Jiangsu, China
    4. Key Laboratory of Geographic Information Science, East China Normal University, Ministry of Education, Shanghai 200241, China
    5. Institute of Policy and Management, CAS, Beijing 100080, China
    6. School of Economics and Management, Nanchang University, Nanchang 330031, China
  • Received:2017-03-30 Online:2018-03-20 Published:2018-03-20
  • Supported by:
    [Foundation: Zhejiang Provincial Social Science Planning Fund Program, No.18NDJC149YB; National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.71742001, No.41761021;Humanities and Social Science Research Program of the Ministry of Education, No.17YJC790061]


Embodied carbon emissions in international trade plays a crucial role in shaping regional commitments towards emission reduction in the context of global climate change and greenhouse gas emission policy. Based on the multi-region input-output analytical framework and the stochastic impacts by regression on population, affluence and technology (STIRPAT) model, this paper analyzes the embodiment of global emissions in trade, so as to explore the characteristics of global carbon emissions under a consumption accounting principle for 39 countries from 1995 to 2011, and investigates the determinants of the embodied emissions in global trade based on an extended STIRPAT model. One finding from this study is that some countries like China and Russia are characterized by the highest net outflow of embodied emissions in trade, while other regions in the world provide strong support for their economic growth through thick trade relationships, and more importantly, comparative advantages are also obtained by their industries associated with trades. Under the production-based accounting principle, these countries like China and Russia have also been accountable for a large volume of emissions embodied in global trade, and thus would face huge pressures to curtail carbon emissions, which, in turn, may also impede the local economic development. Moreover, the lower the net carbon emissions embodied in regional trade, the higher the carbon emissions under a consumption accounting principle. Therefore, the relevant countries should bear greater emissions reduction responsibilities from the perspective of the production-based accounting principle in the context of global climate policy. Additionally, the analysis results show that a larger deal of net carbon emissions embodied in global trade are mainly from Asia and Eastern Europe, while a smaller amount of net carbon emissions embodied in global trade are primarily found in highly economically developed regions like Western Europe and Northern America. Another important finding is that, for environmental impact analysis regarding the corresponding influencing factors, the increase of carbon emissions embodied in global trade would be primarily caused by population and economic development level. For wealthy countries or regions such as the USA and the EU, via trade relations with their main trading partners, their environmental impacts, particularly carbon emissions associated with their consumption, may be transferred to other regions. On that basis, facing severe pressures to curb carbon emissions embodied in international trade in climate policy, these regions should take proactive initiatives like carrying out technology transfer and/or providing financial aid to improve notably other developing countries' production technology. In addition, in order to reduce the impact of trade on the emissions of global economies on global environment, the increase in the overall share of clean energy in the energy consumption structure and energy efficiency improvement should be also an effective policy option.

Key words: emissions embodied in trade, input-output analysis, environmental impact, energy structure, global