How Does Industrial Internet Development Affect Energy-Saving and Carbon Emissions Reduction in China? A Multiple and Multilevel Mediation Analysis
Industrial internet development (IID) and energy-saving and carbon emissions reduction are important driving forces and objective functions of China’s economic transformation and high-quality development. Whether the two policies can achieve a “perfect” implementation effect is critical to determining the successful achievement of low-carbon transformation development. This paper attempts to systematically investigate the influence mechanism of IID on energy-saving and emissions reduction from two perspectives of structure adjustment and green technology progress (GTP). Industrial structure (IS) adjustment is investigated from IS upgrade, resource allocation structure (RAS), and energy consumption structure (ES) from supply and demand sides. GTP variables include green technology innovation (GTI) and energy intensity (EI). A normative interpretation of the multi-layer and multi-media influence mechanism of the industrial internet through structural adjustment and GTP, and the interaction between the two, ultimately promotes energy and carbon performance (ECP). Data from 30 provinces in China from 2012 to 2019 are empirically tested using the dynamic panel spatial Durbin models (SDM) Han–Phillips GMM combined with multiple and multilevel mediation analysis. The notable results are fourfold. (1) IID can promote ECP by advancing IS upgrade, optimizing the RAS, accelerating the transformation of ES, reducing EI, and strengthening technological innovation. (2) There is an interaction effect between IS adjustment and GTP, and structural adjustment pushes GTP. (3) Green technology innovation (GTI) can stimulate structural adjustment, whereas EI shows no significant influence. (4) ECP has a “snowball effect” and strategic competitive behavior, IID has significant positive externalities, and structural adjustment and green technological progress have spatial spillover effects. The results are robust under a variety of statistical specifications and estimations. Accordingly, this paper reveals the coordination of IID and energy-saving and emissions reduction policies that effectively result in “structural dividends” and “technological dividends” and promote the formation of regionally coordinated mechanisms, which helps policymakers better understand the impact of IID on energy and the environment, and formulate feasible policies to achieve energy-saving and carbon emissions reduction.
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