Natural Hazards

, Volume 62, Issue 2, pp 243–254 | Cite as

Low-carbon development in the least developed region: a case study of Guangyuan, Sichuan province, southwest China

  • Dabo Guan
  • Terry Barker
Original Paper


The Wenchuan earthquake in 2008 has resulted in 50% of Guangyuan city facing recovery from different extents of damages. The massive reconstruction provides a good opportunity for Guangyuan city to response to the National Council’s call for tackling climate change by developing a harmonised and low-carbon economy. However, there are many arguments about the definition of ‘low carbon’ and the framework that low-carbon development should follow. Low-carbon development in an economically least developed region such as Guangyuan would provide evidence and contribute to the discussion. The paper employs CO2 emissions as an environmental indicator in scenario analysis to investigate Guangyuan’s future carbon performance in following the national call of reducing 40% of carbon intensity by 2020 and an alternative low-carbon development path. The results have demonstrated that a ‘win–win’ solution can be reached—keeping rapid economic growth while reducing CO2 emissions, however, only by addressing the ‘correct’ determining factors. Technology improvements and production structure changes have been identified as the key determining factors to affect both carbon intensity and CO2 emissions in the future. The two factors are also interdependent. Governmental policies should give appropriate guideline to address both factors but with strong emphasis on production structure decarbonisation in order to avoid the mistake of ‘polluting first and deal with the pollution later’ during the emission-intensive industrialisation processes that many western countries and China’s coastal regions have followed.


Low-carbon development Carbon intensity CO2 emission China 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of SciencesShenyangChina
  2. 2.School of Earth and EnvironmentUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK
  3. 3.St Edmund’s College University of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  4. 4.Department of Land Economy, Cambridge Centre for Climate Change Mitigation ResearchUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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