There are substantial differences in carbon footprints across households. This study applied an environmentally extended multiregional input–output approach to estimate household carbon footprints for 12 different income groups of China’s 30 regions. Subsequently, carbon footprint Gini coefficients were calculated to measure carbon inequality for households across provinces. We found that the top 5% of income earners were responsible for 17% of the national household carbon footprint in 2012, while the bottom half of income earners caused only 25%. Carbon inequality declined with economic growth in China across space and time in two ways: first, carbon footprints showed greater convergence in the wealthier coastal regions than in the poorer inland regions; second, China’s national carbon footprint Gini coefficients declined from 0.44 in 2007 to 0.37 in 2012. We argue that economic growth not only increases income levels but also contributes to an overall reduction in carbon inequality in China.
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The 2012 China MRIO table is compiled by Mi et al.31 (https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.4064285), and global MRIO tables are from the GTAP database (https://www.gtap.agecon.purdue.edu/). Carbon emission inventories can be sourced from the China Emission Accounts and Datasets (http://www.ceads.net/)50. The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding authors upon request.
Requests for code developed in Matlab to process and analyse the primary data collected in this study will be reviewed and made available upon reasonable request.
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This study was supported by National Key R&D Program of China (2016YFA0602603), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (71521002, 71642004, 71874014, 71761137001).
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Mi, Z., Zheng, J., Meng, J. et al. Economic development and converging household carbon footprints in China. Nat Sustain 3, 529–537 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-020-0504-y
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