A better understanding of the economy-material-emissions nexus is fundamental in order to reveal the interactions between human development and the natural environment, and more importantly, to design integrated de-carbonization and de-materialization policies. In this paper, we conducted a decoupling analysis of fossil fuel-induced CO2 emissions and in-use material stocks in infrastructure to economic growth at the provincial level in China and investigated the trilateral causal relationships among the three indicators. The results show that the average elasticity of CO2 emissions and material stocks to economic growth was smaller than 1, representing a status of relative decoupling. However, in many less developed provinces in central and western China, we observed increasing trends of elasticity in the past three decades, which suggest their economic growth became more tightly linked to CO2 emissions and the accumulation of material stocks. Granger tests suggest that in the long run there existed a unidirectional causality running from CO2 emissions, economic growth and urbanization to material stocks. In the short run, a bi-directional causality between CO2 emissions and economic growth and a unidirectional causality from material stocks to CO2 emissions were detected. Policy implications for the de-carbonization and de-materialization transition include enhancing renewable energy utilization, upgrading industries to less carbon-intensive ones, developing compact cities, prolonging the lifespan of infrastructure, and strengthening the life-cycle carbon management of infrastructure.
Journal of Cleaner Production – Elsevier
Published: Apr 10, 2018
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