As bioenergy produces neutral or even negative carbon emissions, the assessment of biomass resources and associated emissions mitigation is a key step toward a low carbon future. However, relevant comprehensive estimates lack in China. Here, we measure the energy potential of China's domestic biomass resources (including crop residues, forest residues, animal manure, municipal solid waste and sewage sludge) from 2000 to 2016 and draw the spatial-temporal variation trajectories at provincial resolution. Scenario analysis and life cycle assessment are also applied to discuss the greenhouse gas mitigation potentials. Results show that the collectable potential of domestic biomass resources increased from 18.31 EJ in 2000 to 22.67 EJ in 2016 with overall uncertainties fluctuating between (−26.6%, 39.7%) and (−27.6%, 39.5%). Taking energy crops into account, the total potential in 2016 (32.69 EJ) was equivalent to 27.6% of China's energy consumption. If this potential can be realized in a planned way to displace fossil fuels during the period 2020–2050, cumulative greenhouse gas emissions mitigation would be in the range of 1652.73–5859.56 Mt CO2-equivalent, in which the negative greenhouse gas emissions due to the introduction of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage would account for 923.78–1344.13 Mt CO2-equivalent. Contrary to increasing bioenergy potentials in most provinces, there are declining trends in Tibet, Beijing, Shanghai and Zhejiang. In addition, Yunnan, Sichuan and Inner Mongolia would have the highest associated greenhouse gas mitigation potentials. This study can provide valuable guidance on the exploitation of China's untapped biomass resources for the mitigation of global climate change.
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