Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2018, Vol. 73 ›› Issue (11): 2210-2222.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201811012

• Ecosystem and Carrying Capacity • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Tracking embodied carbon flows in the Belt and Road regions

YAO Qiuhui1,2(),HAN Mengyao1,2(),LIU Weidong1,2   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2017-12-08 Online:2018-11-25 Published:2018-11-22
  • Supported by:
    National Key Research and Development Program of China, No.2016 YFA0602804; National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41701135; CAS Priority Research Program, No.XDA20010102


Due to the high levels of connectivity among countries, carbon flows and leakage play increasingly significant roles in global carbon reduction. In concert with global industrial shifts, high-carbon activities in developed countries have gradually transitioned to developing ones, alongside high imports from the latter for the other countries' final consumption. This work aims to illustrate the transfer flows of embodied carbon emissions among countries and regions whilst quantifying the spatial distribution of production- and consumption-based intensities and the related responsibilities of the Belt and Road regions based on multi-regional input-output modeling. The results of this work reveal that production-based carbon intensities of Belt and Road regions are significantly higher than those of their consumption-based ones, and that differences between these two intensities are much larger than in developed countries. Up to 95% of the net embodied carbon exports are derived from the Belt and Road regions, and about 30% of the consumption-based emissions are from developed countries including the United States and Europe outside the Belt and Road area. In consideration of the cross-border international trade, the Belt and Road regions bear high-level pressure of consumption-based carbon emissions. To provide effective approaches for the mitigation of global climate change, it is necessary to evaluate the environmental responsibilities of the Belt and Road regions from the perspective of consumption and build an inclusive global climate governance system towards regional cooperation and development.

Key words: multi-region, input-output analysis, embodied carbon flows, consumption-based carbon, the Belt and Road Initiative, climate governance