Reducing energy-related carbon emissions has become the essential measure to mitigate global climate change. Based on decoupling analyses and index decomposition, this study is the first to explore whether carbon emission per capita decouples from the human development index from 2000 to 2015 at the provincial level in Southwest China [Chongqing (CQ), Sichuan (SC), Guizhou (GZ), and Yunnan (YN)]. We demonstrate the following. (1) The economic output and energy intensity effects among the five drivers are the strongest to promote and suppress the growth of carbon emission per capita from 2001 to 2015. (2) At the provincial level, we observed four decoupling statures, and the decoupling impact was organized in decreasing order: CQ > GZ > SC > YN (2001-2005), GZ > YN > CQ > SC (2006-2010), YN > SC > GZ > CQ (2011-2015). (3) The overall decoupling effect of Southwest China has been generally reinforced from 2000 to 2015, and finally entered a strong decoupling status in 2013-2015; an environmental Kuznets curve explained that this finding is related to historical peaks in total carbon emissions. Overall, this study provides guidance for the government on carbon emissions mitigation strategies and a valuable decision-making reference for other regions attempting to accelerate low-carbon development.
Keywords: Carbon emission per capita Decomposition analysis Decoupling analysis Environmental Kuznets curve Human development index Southwest China