With the rapid development of the social economy, CO2 emission from energy consumption has become one of the main factors driving climate change. Reducing carbon emissions and developing a low-carbon economy are attracting increasing attention from the international community. According to statistics from the International Energy Agency (IEA), China’s carbon emissions in 2017 accounted for 27.3% of total global CO2 emissions and exceeded the sum of those of the US and EU (Liu et al., 2020). As a responsible country, the Chinese government promised a target of reducing the per unit gross domestic product (GDP) carbon emissions by 60%-65% in 2030 compared with the 2005 levels (Wen and Shao, 2019). The realization of this goal depends not only on the low-carbon transformation of economic development, industrial restructuring and technological progress at the national level, but also to a large extent on the coordinated emission reduction actions at the provincial level. However, across China’s different provinces there are great gaps in social-economic development levels, industrial structure, resource endowment, and residents’ energy consumption and demographic structure, resulting in significant differences in carbon emissions. On the other hand, with the accelerated process of industrialization, the difficulty and the cost of emission reduction are also increasing. Besides, the rapid transformation of population structure, the rapid decline of the rural population proportion and the rise of energy consumption by residents have all brought great pressure to China’s emission mitigation. Accordingly, from the premise of maintaining healthy and stable economic growth, controlling the total carbon emissions of China’s provinces, scientifically allocating emission reduction tasks in each province, and ultimately achieving the overall national emission reduction goals, are the issues that the government must consider when formulating differentiated emission reduction measures. Thus, it is necessary to deeply explore the factors driving regional or provincial carbon emissions growth during the process of China’s economic development, and their relative contributions.