Emission growth and drivers in Mainland Southeast Asian countries

Binyuan Liu, Yuru Guan, Yuli Shan*, Can Cui, Klaus Hubacek

*Corresponding author for this work

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Mainland Southeast Asian (MSEA) countries (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, and Vietnam) are likely to become one of the next hotspots for emission reduction, since CO2 emissions in this area will have a two-thirds increase by 2040 due to rapid economy growth and associated energy consumption. As one of the most vulnerable areas to climate change, MSEA countries need to develop low-carbon roadmaps based on accurate emission data. This study provides emission inventories for MSEA countries for 2010-2019, based on the IPCC territorial emission accounting approach, including emissions from five types of fuels (i.e., coal, crude oil, oil products, natural gas, and biofuels & waste) used in 47 economic sectors. The results show that the emissions in MSEA countries are on the rise, with average annual growth rates ranging from 2.5% in Thailand to 19.3% in Laos. Biomass is one of the most important sources of carbon emissions, contributing between 11.8% and 76.7% of total carbon emissions, but its share has been declining in most countries, whereas the share of emissions from coal has risen sharply in Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. We further examine the drivers behind the changes in emissions using index decomposition analysis. Economic growth was the strongest driver of growth in emissions, while population growth has only had a small effect on emission growth. Energy intensity varies widely across nations, but only significantly reduced CO2 emission growth in Thailand. The secondary sector considerable contributed to an increase in CO2 emissions in Laos and Vietnam, while the tertiary sector only moderately contributed to emissions in Thailand. Our study provides a better understanding of the composition and underlying factors of emission growth in MSEA countries, this could shape their low-carbon development pathway. Our results could also inform other emerging economies, which may become emission hotspots in the next decades, to develop low-carbon roadmaps, thereby contributing to the achievement of global climate change targets.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117034
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 1-Mar-2023


  • Carbon accounting
  • Climate change
  • CO emissions
  • Decomposition analysis
  • Indochina

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