Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 816–832 | Cite as

Structural decomposition analysis of embodied carbon in trade in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River

  • Zhijian Chen
  • Wen Ni
  • Lantian Xia
  • Zhangqi ZhongEmail author
Research Article


The middle reaches of the Yangtze River are the first demonstration zone for low-carbon urbanization in the midwest regions of China, and the division of carbon emission reduction responsibility is an important aspect of construction of ecological civilization. In this paper, the embodied carbon emissions in trade are estimated by using an input–output model in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, and then a structural decomposition analysis (SDA) model is further applied to conduct decomposition analysis on factors of embodied carbon changes. Our primary findings show the following: (1) Production-based CO2 emissions from Hubei and Hunan are higher than consumption-based CO2 emissions. There are situations in Jiangxi and Anhui where production-based CO2 emissions are both higher and lower than consumption-based CO2 emissions. However, inter-regional trade implied carbon is dominated by net inflows. Moreover, the inter-regional embodied carbon emissions in trade mainly flow out to relatively developed regions, such as Jiangsu and Shanghai. The inflow of embodied carbon in trade comes mainly from relatively backward economic development areas, such as Shaanxi and Inner Mongolia. (2) From the perspective of industry, industries in Jiangxi and Anhui are dominated by net inflow, whereas industries in Hunan and Hubei are dominated by net outflow. Meanwhile, industry in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River displays a high carbon-locked phenomenon. Specifically, the high carbon-locked outflow industries are mainly concentrated in the transportation and warehousing industry, agriculture, and the chemical industry, and the outflow provinces flow out mainly to Jiangsu, Guangdong, and other economically developed regions; high carbon-locked inflows are concentrated in metal smelting and rolling processing, food manufacturing and tobacco processing, and construction, and the provinces are mainly Hebei, Henan, and Inner Mongolia, where economic development is lacking. (3) Furthermore, the results of SDA decomposition indicate that scale effect is generally the most important factor leading to embodied carbon outflow. Meanwhile, the energy carbon emission effect, the energy intensity effect, and the structural effect are important factors—the inter-industry association effect mainly promotes the embodied carbon outflow. Consequently, based on the distinction between production and consumer responsibility, and from the perspective of scale effect and structural effect, the related policy suggests that consumers should be held responsible.


Input–output model Embodied carbon emissions in trade SDA model Responsibility for reducing emission 


Funding information

This study received financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 41501133, 41801118), the Jiangxi Provincial Social Science Planning Fund Project (No. 15YJ36), the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangxi Province (No. 20171BAA218012), the China Postdoctoral Fund Project (No. 2016M592106), the Jiangxi Postdoctoral Daily Fund Project (No. 2016RC14), the Jiangxi Graduate Innovative Special Fund Project (No. YC2018-S260), and the Post-Doctoral Fund Program in Jiangxi Province (No. 2016KY25).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhijian Chen
    • 1
  • Wen Ni
    • 1
  • Lantian Xia
    • 2
  • Zhangqi Zhong
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Economics and ManagementEast China Jiaotong UniversityNanchangChina
  2. 2.Faculty of International Tourism and ManagementCity University of MacauMacauChina
  3. 3.School of EconomicsZhejiang University of Finance & EconomicsHangzhouChina

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