Carbon inequality at the sub-national scale: A case study of provincial-level inequality in CO2 emissions in China 1997-2007

Afton Clarke-Sather, Jiansheng Qu, Qin Wang, Jingjing Zeng, Yan Li

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113 Scopus citations


This study asks whether sub-national inequalities in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions mirror international patterns in carbon inequality using the case study of China. Several studies have examined global-level carbon inequality; however, such approaches have not been used on a sub-national scale. This study examines inter-provincial inequality in CO2 emissions within China using common measures of inequality (coefficient of variation, Gini Index, Theil Index) to analyze provincial-level data derived from the IPCC reference approach for the years 1997-2007. It decomposes CO2 emissions inequality into its inter-regional and intra-regional components. Patterns of per capita CO2 emissions inequality in China appear superficially similar to, though slightly lower than, per capita income inequality. However, decomposing these inequalities reveals different patterns. While inter-provincial income inequality is highly regional in character, inter-provincial CO2 emissions inequality is primarily intra-regional. While apparently similar, global patterns in CO2 emissions are not mirrored at the sub-national scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5420-5428
Number of pages9
JournalEnergy Policy
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was funded by the “Strategic Priority Research Program—Climate Change: Carbon Budget and Related Issues” of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Grant no. XDA05140100/XDA05150100 and the Chinese National Natural Sciences Foundation, Grant no. 40801232.

Copyright 2011 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • China
  • Climate change
  • Inequality


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