ABSTRACT Effectively exploring the impacts of urban spatial structures on carbon dioxide emissions is important for achieving low-carbon goals. However, most previous studies have examined the impact of urban spatial structure on total carbon emissions based only on polycentricity. Fine-grained studies on subsectoral carbon emissions and other dimensions of urban spatial structure are lacking. Therefore, our study comprehensively explores the impact of urban dispersion and polycentricity on total carbon emissions and carbon emissions of four subsectors (industry, power, civilian, and transportation) from 2012 to 2017 while considering the effects of city size. Results reveal that the nighttime light data is useful for measuring urban spatial structure, and a polycentric, decentralized urban spatial structure correlates with the reduced total carbon emissions and transportation carbon emissions. Meanwhile, a decentralized urban spatial structure gives rise to lower industrial carbon emissions and civilian carbon emissions, whereas a multicenter urban spatial structure contributes to minimizing carbon emissions from power systems. However, in small and medium-sized cities, urban spatial structure differently affects the total carbon and transportation carbon emissions.

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