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The nonlinear relationship between temperature changes and economic development for individual provinces in China


Increasing evidence shows that global warming has exerted important influence on the economies of societies in the past and will continue to have effects in the future. The provinces of China differ substantially in terms of their temperatures and their degrees of economic development. Therefore, discussion of the positive and negative effects of global warming on economic development at the provincial level is beneficial for determining the effects of global warming on economic development in different provinces, and this discussion also helps to answer the question of how to increase the resilience of economies to global warming. This paper studies the effects of annual average temperature changes on economic growth in the 31 provinces of China from 1978 to 2013 (here referred to as the historical period) and in the 5 typical provinces from 2010 to 2100 (here referred to as the future) under the RCP8.5 scenario. The results indicate that (a) from 1978 to 2013, economic growth exhibits a quadratic nonlinear response to local temperature in all provinces of China and that temperature has both positive and negative effects on the economic growth rates of different provinces. In addition, taking 23.37 °C as a threshold value, over 96% of the provinces display positive effects. (b) Under the RCP8.5 scenario, from 2010 to 2100, although the 5 typical provinces maintain trends reflecting economic growth, the average rate of growth is 80% lower than the value during the historical period. The purpose of this study is to draw the attention of the government to the implications of future global warming for the economic development of different provinces.

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This work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program—Global Change Mitigation Project: Global change risk of population and economic system: mechanism and assessment (No. 2016YFA0602403); the Beijing Municipal Natural Science Foundation (No. 9172010); the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41775103); and the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program)—Global change and environmental risk’s evolution process and its integrated assessment model (No. 2012CB955402).

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Correspondence to Zhengtao Zhang.

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Li, N., Bai, K., Zhang, Z. et al. The nonlinear relationship between temperature changes and economic development for individual provinces in China. Theor Appl Climatol 137, 2477–2486 (2019).

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