A novel analysis of consumption-based carbon footprints in China: Unpacking the effects of urban settlement and rural-to-urban migration

Chen Zhang, Xinyu Cao, Anu Ramaswami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

Urbanization in developing countries greatly contributes to growing carbon emissions. Although studies have documented the urbanization effect, the science of consumption-based footprint assessments has yet to unpack various effects during the process of urbanization. Based on household expenditure data, this study innovatively proposes a methodology to conceptually and statistically deconstruct the observed urbanization effects on carbon footprint into selection effects and migration effects, which consist of human settlement effects and purposeful changes of migration (such as income and residential location). Applying propensity score matching and regression on the 2010 China Family Panel Study, we find that the apparent carbon-footprint difference between rural residents and migrants is about 1.5 t CO2e per capita. The migration effects account for about 2/3 of the apparent difference and the remaining 1/3 is due to selection effects. Urban settlement effects and the purposeful changes account for 73% and 27% of the migration effects, respectively. Transport sector is the key driver of carbon-footprint growth: it accounts for 60% of the migration effects. We conclude that travel behavior of rural migrants, currently in scarcity in the lite rature, merits further investigation, and policies should emphasize transit-oriented land use and transportation to achieve low-carbon urbanization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-293
Number of pages9
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Volume39
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

Keywords

  • Carbon emission
  • Greenhouse gas
  • Human settlement
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Migration
  • Propensity score matching

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