The impact of international trade on national decarbonization outcomes is inconclusive. Taking Germany as a case study, we developed a relative intersectoral linkage analysis based on the global value chain (GVC) framework. We identified nations' emission changes due to the transition of composition, scale, and technology in the fragmented trade network. The results show that in the process of reducing emissions, on the one hand, the supply of local emission-intensive sectors to the domestic economy and international trade has shrunk. On the other hand, we found comprehensive emission intensity reduction driven by downstream sectors’ production, even if there was carbon leakage in the participation of backward GVCs. However, when emission-intensive production was concentrated in the local market, GVC backward participation positively affected the emission intensity of the local economy. According to the findings, we assert that continuous technological innovation and reconstruction of the value chain are necessary for sustainable decarbonization from the local to the global economy.
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