Since the reform and opening-up, China has made remarkable achievements in economic development, but cannot ignore a great cost in the environment at the same time. In China, eastern coastal areas gradually become the core of regional economy by right of geographical advantages and preferential policies, but inland areas have evolved to be the periphery, reflecting the unbalanced regional development. However, the developed areas like eastern coastal areas achieve the low carbon emissions rather than become the pollution haven in China in the context of higher foreign trade development. So how do the above areas achieve low carbon emissions? Does it mean that the regions also have the interregional carbon emissions transfer similar to the carbon emissions transfer between countries? Who plays the more important role in regional carbon emissions transfer in China, foreign trade or interregional trade? The answer to these urgent problems is of great realistic significance to the understanding of the China's status in international carbon emissions transfer and related reasons, and also provides China with some inspiration for future target achievement of carbon emissions reduction.
By building the environmental input-output model which can calculate the embodied carbon both in foreign trade and regional trade, this paper estimates the embodied carbon in 31 regions' foreign trade and interregional trade in 2012 based on the data of China's regional input-output data and energy consumption data concerned, and tries to analyze China's carbon emissions transfer from the perspectives of foreign trade and interregional trade to investigate the differences in regions' status in carbon emissions transfer and reasons for status differences, thereby answering the research questions raised.
It comes to the following conclusions:firstly, the regions with net outflow of carbon emissions such as Guangdong, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang are the transit areas of carbon emissions transfer from foreign countries to China, and the regions with net inflow of carbon emissions such as Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Hebei are the destinations in carbon emissions transfer chain, reflecting that carbon leakage mainly results from China's interregional trade rather than foreign trade; secondly, the trade of manufactured goods mainly contributes to carbon emissions transfer from foreign countries to China, and carbon emissions transfer among regions through interregional trade is mainly caused by domestic trade in primary products; the above characteristics of carbon emissions transfer show that China has become a pollution haven for the world's carbon emissions to some extent under the development pattern of export-oriented processing trade, thereby supporting the opinion that "pollution haven hypothesis" is feasible in China from a perspective of carbon emissions transfer; thirdly, the sub-sector carbon emissions transfer analysis in Guangdong and Shanxi provinces indicates that regional status in carbon emissions transfer is correlated with the characteristics of regional structure, and is influenced by resource endowment, foreign trade development mode, etc.
The conclusions of this paper provide China with important enlightenment to achieve carbon emissions reduction in future, including the formulation of regional differentiated carbon emissions reduction policies and targets, the formation of low-carbon industrial system and the construction of low-carbon energy system. The State Council has paid high attention to the above enlightenment and has made related policies in deed. For example, according to the 13th Five-Year Work Plan for Controlling Greenhouse Gas Emissions (2016), China has proposed to determine provincial carbon emissions control targets based on the consideration of different development stages, resource endowment and strategic positioning. In short, this paper mainly expands the existing research in the following three aspects. Firstly, this paper updates the estimation results of embodied carbon emissions in China's foreign trade and regional trade to 2012. Secondly, it explores the regional status differences in carbon emissions transfer and related reasons through the analysis of the relationship between embodied carbon emissions in China's foreign trade and regional trade. Thirdly, it proposes the feasible carbon emissions reduction ways by explaining the characteristics of carbon emissions transfer in detail.In addition, with gradual perfection of input-output data, carbon emissions data and energy consumption data, the assumptions like "domestic technology assumption" involved in the research will be improved.