Spatial variations and interactions of environmental performances in China
Rapid urbanization has taken place at an unprecedented rate in a growing number of Chinese cities in recent decades. Quantifying spatial variations and interactions of environmental performances in China provide basis for effective policy decisions to achieve sustainable environmental management. We select a group of indicators for measuring environmental performances in terms of environmental consequences and initiatives in the 286 cities over the period of 2000 to 2010. We describe the overall distribution pattern and identify hotspot cities with statistically higher values from their neighbors for each indicator by calculating two spatial statistics – the Global and Local Moran’s I index, respectively. We make multiple comparisons of environmental performances among seven geographic regions and twenty-two metropolitan regions. We also conduct correlation analyses to examine interactions between environmental consequences and initiatives.
We observe strong positive spatial autocorrelation for all the indicators, implying spatial clustering distribution of environmental performances all over China. Hotspot cities mainly distribute in East China and metropolitan regions. In general, East China shows prominent environmental performances over the other geographic regions. Higher intensities of pollutant emission, resource consumption, and environmental investment are evidenced in more developed metropolitan regions as compared to less developed ones. This indicates not only profound environmental consequences from urbanization but also intensive environmental initiatives in these more developed regions. Positive interactions between environmental consequences and initiatives reveal that financial incentives for pollution control largely rely upon consumption of land resources for urban development, and are notably induced by high intensity of pollutant emission, while we do not find conclusive evidence for the effectiveness of current incentives, which should be another concern of future studies.