AbstractUrban governmental environmental attention allocation (UGEAA) is an important issue for sustainable urban development. This study analyzes the spatial characteristics of the UGEAA and its driving factors across 255 Chinese cities from 2009 to 2018. The results show that (1) the UGEAA has spatial clustering and a spatial spillover effect, (2) factors such as governmental administrative distance, neighbors’ UGEAA, public attention to environmental pollution, and economic growth exert influences on the UGEAA, and (3) the driving forces of UGEAA exhibit differentiation for different regions. Text analysis is applied to measure the index of UGEAA. The analysis framework of the drivers of UGEAA is built. It contributes to the political geography theory by study of the spatial characteristics of UGEAA and fills the research gap in urban political geography study. It also contributes to the attention-based theory by expanding the research object to UGEAA. It unearths UGEAA’s driving factors, characteristics, and regional disparities, and proposes policy recommendations.Practical ApplicationsUnder the spatial interaction, the high-level UGEAA agglomeration area is conducive to the formation of a positive driving mechanism, which promotes the raising of the overall level of the UGEAA in the agglomeration area. Hence, the interaction of UGEAA should be maintained to provide a good policy environment and platform support for improving urban environmental quality. The low-level agglomeration areas of UGEAA should be the focus of management to implement effective external intervention and put in place the necessary leadership policies to reverse their negative dilatory mechanism. In addition, for that obvious spatial correlation exists in different UGEAA, policy-makers should consider setting up a joint action of environmental protection across departments and regions, as well as consider the mechanism of supervision, protection, and accountability with specific powers and responsibilities. UGEAA increases without necessarily resulting in policy formulation or governance action, but steady attention is at least a vital element of ecological environmental governance. Following that, the next focus should be on how to keep the governmental policy-makers’ attention steady and growing on this public issue. Different factors that drive UGEAA should be properly considered in government policies. First, governments should be encouraged to create more public participation platforms to enhance the effectiveness of the bottom-up supervision, especially for western China. Second, some local governments still face difficulties in resolving the dilemmas of “harmonious coexistence” of the economy and the environment in the region they govern. Therefore, it is meaningful to more deeply implement the strategy from extensive development to refined development. Third, governments should also note the adverse effect of GS in the eastern regions, perhaps limiting the GS without impairing its ability. It may be possible, for example, for the government to reduce redundant departments and personnel and increase availability of “internet +” services to increase their service efficiency. For the central regions, attention should also be paid to the significant impact of industrialization. The negative environmental effects caused by the industrial transfer from eastern regions to central regions have attracted the attention of governments. As a next step, the central government should assist the central region to perform well in the renewal of industrial equipment, and in the innovation and transformation of technological processes, in the upgrading of industry, and so on, to achieve a green transformation. Finally, the shortage of financial resources is still the main reason that governments cannot pay attention to the environment, due primarily to the economic development in the western regions. The central government has an urgent task of guiding the western regions out of the “poverty trap” and moving them from left to right along the environmental Kuznets curve.

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