The Mechanism of CO2 Emissions from Urban Transport Based on Individuals' Travel Behavior in Beijing

  • 1. Department of Urban and Economic Geography, School of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China;
    2. School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China;
    3. School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

Received date: 2010-09-10

  Revised date: 2011-01-30

  Online published: 2011-08-20

Supported by

National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41071102;Project of Independent Research Plan Supported by Tsinghua University, No.20101081895


While increasing awareness of global climate change has given rise to a global movement of low-carbon city, the potential of urban planning on CO2 emission reduction has attracted much scholarly and practical attention. Specifically, it is argued that patterns of urban development and neighborhood-scale built environment affect access are supposed to influence people's travel behavior, and hence CO2 emissions. Since the 1980s, urban development in China has transformed from danwei-based, mixed land-use, and pedestrian and bicycle-friendly pattern toward zoning-based, automobile-oriented urban form. Such transformation may yield the growth of automobile, high-carbon travel behavior, while prohibiting de-carbonization of urban development in China. This study examines the impacts of neighborhood-scale urban form on individual travel behavior, and thereby, CO2 emissions from daily travel behavior, based on a daily activity survey of 1048 residents from 10 selected neighborhoods of Beijing in 2007. The survey covers activity diary of consecutive 48 hours including a Sunday and a Monday, while only Monday travel behavior is used for this study. Using structural equation model, the results first of all show that both travel distance and mode choice have significant effects on CO2 emissions and their effects are different. The latter's effect is much higher than the former's. What's more, travel frequency does not influence CO2 emissions significantly. Secondly, urban spatial structure has a significant effect on individuals' travel behavior and thus CO2 emissions; residents in different neighborhoods perform very differently. For instance, the travel distance of danwei residents is comparatively short, while the mode choice is mainly non-motor vehicle, thus danwei community shows much less CO2 emissions from urban transport. In contrast, the travel distance of residents in affordable housing community is much longer, while the mode choice is mainly motor vehicle, thus it shows much higher CO2 emissions. To sum up, the travel behavior of Danwei residents is to some extent low-carbon, and danwei neighborhood is a kind of low-carbon spatial structure. Therefore we should pay more attention to this unique neighborhood in China.

Cite this article

MAJing, CHAI Yanwei, LIU Zhilin . The Mechanism of CO2 Emissions from Urban Transport Based on Individuals' Travel Behavior in Beijing[J]. Acta Geographica Sinica, 2011 , 66(8) : 1023 -1032 . DOI: 10.11821/xb201108002


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