Urbanization processes at both global and regional scales are taking place at an unprecedent pace, leading to more than half of the global population living in urbanized areas. This process could exert grand challenges on the human living environment. With the proliferation of remote sensing and satellite data being used in social and environmental studies, fine spatial- and temporal-resolution measures of urban expansion and environmental quality are increasingly available. This, in turn, offers great opportunities to uncover the potential environmental impacts of fast urban expansion. This paper investigated the relationship between urban expansion and pollutant emissions in the Fujian province of China by building a Bayesian spatio-temporal autoregressive model. It drew upon recently compiled pollutant emission data with fine spatio-temporal resolution, long temporal coverage, and multiple sources of remote sensing data. Our results suggest that there was a significant relationship between urban expansion and pollution emission intensity—urban expansion significantly elevated the PM2.5
emissions intensity in Fujian province during 1995–2015. This finding was robust to different measures of urban expansion and retained after controlling for potential confounding effects. The temporal evolution of pollutant emissions, net of covariate effects, presented a fluctuation pattern rather than a consistent trend of increasing or decreasing. Spatial variability of the pollutant emissions intensity among counties was, however, decreasing steadily with time.
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