Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

How to allocate carbon dioxide mitigation responsibilities within China? - Application of a new burden-sharing scheme
by Li, Jie, Ph.D., Princeton University, 2010, 203; 3410994
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation applies one new carbon burden-sharing scheme to China at the regional and provincial levels. The major principle of this scheme is to allocate the carbon mitigation burden based on individual emissions instead of average or total national/regional emissions. Only high emitting individuals at the right end of the carbon distributions are included in the mitigation accounting.

To simulate the carbon distribution across individuals, a number of assumptions need to be made. The key parameter to determine is the carbon elasticity of income. Through an analysis of the consumption data from household surveys for 2002, chapter 2 calculates the carbon footprints of Chinese households, analyzes their patterns of consumption and carbon emissions, and estimates the carbon elasticity of income. The results of this study show that the average per capita household CO2 emissions of urban and rural households in China were 3.2 tons and 0.9 tons, respectively, in 2002. In terms of carbon inequality, China’s overall inequality, as measured by its Gini coefficient across individuals, was 0.51 in 2002, approximately the same level as that of the world as a whole (0.52 in 2004). Simulation results indicate that income (expenditure on consumption is used in the models) is the most important factor causing inequality in carbon emissions. With all the other available conditions controlled, the income elasticity was 0.92 for rural households, 0.61 for urban households, and 0.84 for all households together.

Carbon mitigation allocation is performed under different hypothetical national CO2 emissions targets for 2020 and 2030. The allocation results show that there are three tiers of provinces with a heavy mitigation burden to bear. For 2020, the data are very clear. Both the first tier and the second contain five provinces each. These are mainly provinces from the northeast, northwest, and coastal regions, plus Tianjin and Shanghai. The third tier is composed of seven provinces from six regions. For 2030, the three-tier system changes to a small extent and inter-tier differences are relatively vague. The top burden bearers are featured with heavy coal endowments, the extraction of electricity from coal, energy-intensive economic structures, high-income-related high-emission lifestyles, low-income related low productivity and efficiency, and an energy-demanding climate. Allocation results are also compared with other mainstream schemes of burden-sharing. This new burden-sharing does allocate a greater share of the mitigation burden to relatively rich provinces. However, it cannot shift the burden-sharing pattern among provinces and regions. The heavy burden bearers are always those provinces and regions with high carbon intensities and/or high per capita CO2 emissions. Other factors considered in different schemes are as well always secondary. Therefore, no matter what allocation scheme is to be applied in China, I recommend, on the basis of this study, linking the development priorities with regional features and adjusting the burden-sharing results accordingly.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Socolow, Robert H.
School: Princeton University
School Location: United States -- New Jersey
Source: DAI-A 71/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Economics, Public administration, Individual & family studies
Keywords: Burden-sharing, Carbon footprint, Carbon mitigation, China, Households, Lifestyles
Publication Number: 3410994
ISBN: 978-1-124-05118-5
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