Natural Hazards

, Volume 73, Issue 2, pp 579–595 | Cite as

The impact of economic growth, industrial structure and urbanization on carbon emission intensity in China

  • Yue-Jun Zhang
  • Zhao LiuEmail author
  • Huan Zhang
  • Tai-De Tan
Original Paper


China’s macroeconomic policy framework has been determined to ensure steady growth, adjust the industrial structure and advance the socioeconomic reforms in recent years. And urbanization is supposed to be one of the most important socioeconomic reform directions. Meanwhile, China also committed to reduce carbon emissions intensity by 2020, then it should be noted that what kind of impact of these policy orientations on carbon emission intensity. Therefore, based on the historical data from 1978 to 2011, this paper quantitatively studies the impact of China’s economic growth, industrial structure and urbanization on carbon emission intensity. The results indicate that, first, there is long-term cointegrating relationship between carbon emission intensity and other factors. And the increase in the share of tertiary industry [i.e., the ratio of tertiary industry value added to gross domestic product (GDP)] and economic growth (here we use the real GDP per capita) play significant roles in curbing carbon emission intensity, while the promotion of population urbanization (i.e., the share of population living in the urban regions of total population) may lead to carbon emission intensity growth. Second, there exists significant one-way causality running from the urbanization rate and economic growth to carbon emission intensity, respectively. Third, among the three drivers, economic growth proves the main influencing factor of carbon emission intensity changes during the sample period.


Carbon emission intensity Economic growth Industrial structure Urbanization ARDL 



We gratefully acknowledge the financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 71001008, 71273028, 71322103, 70903028, 71173207) and Basic Research Fund of Beijing Institute of Technology (No. 20122142008).


  1. Al-mulali U, Sab CNBC, Fereidouni HG (2012) Exploring the bi-directional long run relationship between urbanization, energy consumption, and carbon dioxide emission. Energy 46:156–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ang JB (2009) CO2 emissions, research and technology transfer in China. Ecol Econ 68:2658–2665CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ang BW, Zhang FQ, Choi KH (1998) Factorizing changes in energy and environmental indicators through decomposition. Energy 23:489–495CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Auffhammer M, Carson RT (2008) Forecasting the path of China’s CO2 emissions using province-level information. J Environ Econ Manag 55:229–247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Azomahou T, Laisney F, Van PN (2006) Economic development and CO2 emissions: a nonparametric panel approach. J Public Econ 90:1347–1363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Banerjee A, Dolado JJ, Galbraith JW, Hendry D (1993) Co-integration, error correction, and the econometric analysis of non-stationary data. Oxford University Press, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bhattacharyya SC, Ussanarassamee A (2004) Decomposition of energy and CO2 intensities of Thai industry between 1981 and 2000. Energy Econ 26:765–781CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Caporale GM, Pittis N (1999) Efficient estimation of cointegrating vectors and testing for causality in vector auto-regressions. J Econ Surv 13:3–35Google Scholar
  9. Charemza WW, Deadman DF (1997) New directions in econometric practices: general to specific modelling, cointegration and vector autoregression. Edward Elgar, CheltenhamGoogle Scholar
  10. Davidsdottir B, Fisher M (2011) The odd couple: the relationship between state economic performance and carbon emissions economic intensity. Energy Policy 39:4551–4562CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dhakal S (2009) Urban energy use and carbon emission from cities in China and policy implications. Energy Policy 37:4208–4219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dietz T, Rosa EA (1997) Effects of population and affluence on CO2 emissions. Natl Acad Sci 94:175–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ebohon OJ, Ikeme AJ (2006) Decomposition analysis of CO2 emission intensity between oil-producing and non-oil-producing sub-Saharan African countries. Energy Policy 34:3599–3611CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ehrlich PR, Holdren JP (1971) Impact of population growth. Science 171:1212–1217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Engle RF, Granger CWJ (1987) Co-integration and error correction: representation, estimation, and testing. Econometrica 55:251–276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fan Y, Liu LC, Wu G, Tsai HT, Wei YM (2007) Changes in carbon intensity in China: empirical findings from 1980–2003. Ecol Econ 62:683–691CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Giblin S, McNabola A (2009) Modelling the impacts of a carbon emission-differentiated vehicle tax system on CO2 emission intensity from new vehicle purchases in Ireland. Energy Policy 37:1404–1411CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gu CL, Hu LQ, Zhang XM, Wang XD, Guo J (2011) Climate change and urbanization in the Yangtze River Delta. Habitat Int 35:544–552CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) (2007) Climate change 2007: the physical science basis of climate change, contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate ChangeGoogle Scholar
  20. Jalil A, Mahmud SF (2009) Environment Kuznets curve for CO2 emissions: a cointegration analysis for China. Energy Policy 37:5167–5172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Johansen S (1988) Statistical analysis of cointegration vectors. J Econ Dyn Control 12:231–254CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lantz V, Feng Q (2006) Assessing income, population, and technology impacts on CO2 emissions in Canada: where’s the EKC? Ecol Econ 57:229–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Levine MD, Aden NT (2008) Global carbon emissions in the coming decades: the case of China. Annu Rev Environ Resour 33:1–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Li M (2010) Decomposing the change of CO2 emissions in China: a distance function approach. Ecol Econ 70:77–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Liu YB (2009) Exploring the relationship between urbanization and energy consumption in China: using ARDL (autoregressive distributed lag) and FDM (factor decomposition model). Energy 34:1846–1854CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Liu YB, Xie YC (2013) Asymmetric adjustment of the dynamic relationship between energy intensity and urbanization in China. Energy Econ 36:43–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Liu LC, Wu G, Wang JN, Wei YM (2011) China’s carbon emissions from urban and rural households during 1992–2007. J Clean Prod 19:1754–1762CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Martínez-Zarzoso I, Maruotti A (2011) The impact of urbanization on CO2 emissions: evidence from developing countries. Ecol Econ 70:1344–1353CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mavrotas G, Kelly R (2001) Old wine in new bottles: testing causality between savings and growth. Manch Sch Suppl 69:97–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Meng L, Guo JE, Chai J, Zhang ZK (2011) China’s regional CO2 emissions: characteristics, inter-regional transfer and emission reduction policies. Energy Policy 39:6136–6144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nasir M, Rehman FU (2011) Environmental Kuznets curve for carbon emissions in Pakistan: an empirical investigation. Energy Policy 39:1857–1864CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. National Bureau of Statistics of China (2012) China statistical yearbook 2012. China Statistics Press, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  33. National Bureau of Statistics of China (2013) China statistical yearbook 2013. China Statistics Press, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  34. Ozturk I, Acaravci A (2010) The causal relationship between energy consumption and GDP in Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania: evidence from ARDL bound testing approach. Appl Energy 87:1938–1943CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Ozturk I, Acaravci A (2013) The long-run and causal analysis of energy, growth, openness and financial development on carbon emissions in Turkey. Energy Econ 36:262–267CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Paul S, Bhattacharya RN (2004) CO2 emission from energy use in India: a decomposition analysis. Energy Policy 32:585–593CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Perron P (1988) Trends and random walks in macroeconomic time series. J Econ Dyn Control 12:297–332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Pesaran MH, Pesaran B (1997) Working with Microfit 4.0: interactive econometric analysis. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  39. Pesaran MH, Shin Y (1999) An autoregressive distributed lag modeling approach to cointegration analysis. Econometrics and economic theory in the 20th century: the Ragnar Frisch Centennial Symposium. Ambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  40. Pesaran MH, Shin Y, Smith RJ (2001) Bounds testing approaches to the analysis of level relationships. J Appl Econom 16:289–326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Poumanyvong P, Kaneko S (2010) Does urbanization lead to less energy use and lower CO2 emissions? A cross-country analysis. Ecol Econ 70:434–444CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Roca J, Padilla E, Farre M, Galletto V (2001) Economic growth and atmospheric pollution in Spain: discussing the environmental Kuznets curve hypothesis. Ecol Econ 39:85–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Toda HY, Yamamoto T (1995) Statistical inference in vector autoregressions with possibly integrated processes. J Econom 66:225–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Wang C, Chen JN, Zou J (2005) Decomposition of energy-related CO2 emission in China: 1957–2000. Energy 30:73–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Yu SW, Wei YM, Fan JL, Zhang X, Wang K (2012) Exploring the regional characteristics of inter-provincial CO2 emissions in China: an improved fuzzy clustering analysis based on particle swarm optimization. Appl Energy 42:521–529Google Scholar
  46. Yu SW, Wei YM, Wang K (2014) Provincial allocation of carbon emission reduction targets in China: an approach based on improved fuzzy cluster and Shapley value decomposition. Energy Policy 66:630–644CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Zhang YG (2009) Structural decomposition analysis of sources of decarbonizing economic development in China: 1992–2006. Ecol Econ 68:2399–2405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Zhang YJ, Da YB (2013) Decomposing the changes of energy-related carbon emissions in China: evidence from the PDA approach. Nat Hazards 69:1109–1122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Zhang JF, Deng W (2010) Industrial structure change and its eco-environmental influence since the establishment of municipality in Chongqing, China. Procedia Environ Sci 2:517–526CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Zhang CG, Lin Y (2012) Panel estimation for urbanization, energy consumption and CO2 emissions: a regional analysis in China. Energy Policy 49:488–498CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Zhang M, Mu HL, Ning YD (2009) Accounting for energy-related CO2 emission in China, 1991–2006. Energy Policy 37:767–773CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Zhang XP, Tan YK, Tan QL, Yuan JH (2012) Decomposition of aggregate CO2 emissions within a joint production framework. Energy Econ 34:1088–1097CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Zhu HM, You WH, Zeng ZF (2012) Urbanization and CO2 emissions: a semi-parametric panel data analysis. Econ Lett 117:848–850CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yue-Jun Zhang
    • 1
  • Zhao Liu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Huan Zhang
    • 1
  • Tai-De Tan
    • 1
  1. 1.Business SchoolHunan UniversityChangshaPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations