Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2018, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (9): 1263-1274.doi: 10.1007/s11442-018-1524-7

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Tracking embodied carbon flows in the Belt and Road regions

Mengyao HAN1,2(), Qiuhui YAO1,2,3, Weidong LIU1,2,3*(), DUNFORD Michael1,2   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    3. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2018-01-15 Accepted:2018-03-15 Online:2018-09-25 Published:2018-09-25
  • About author:

    Author: Han Mengyao (1989-), PhD, specialized in economic geography as well as studies of embodied carbon, water, land and energy. E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    National Key Research and Development Program of China, No.2016YFA0602804;National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41701135


In the past few decades, economic globalization has driven rapid growth of cross-border trade and a new international division of labor, leading to increasing inter-country embodied carbon flows. Multi-region input-output (MRIO) analysis is used to identify embodied carbon flows between major world regions, including seven regions along the Belt and Road (BR), and the spatial distribution of production- and consumption-based carbon intensities. The results show that current embodied carbon flows are virtually all from BR regions to developed countries, with more than 95% of world net embodied carbon exports coming from BR regions. Consumption in the United States and European Union countries induce about 30% of the carbon emissions in most BR regions, indicating that the former bear a high proportion of consumers’ responsibility for the carbon emitted in the latter. For this reason, measuring environmental responsibilities from consumption rather than a production-based perspective is more equitable, while developing countries should be given a louder voice in the construction through dialogue and cooperation, in part in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative, of an inclusive global climate governance system.

Key words: MRIO, embodied carbon transfers, consumption-based carbon emission, Belt and Road Initiative, inclusive globalization