The sustainable development and innovation-driven development system has always been a guiding ideology for the Chinese government. Therefore, research on China’s environmental regulation and regional innovation output is of great significance. Based on the provincial data of China from 2006 to 2016, this study uses many spatial econometric methods with the spatial Durbin model. We empirically analyze the relationship between environmental regulation and regional innovation output. The results show that (1) China’s regional innovation output has significant spatial cluster and differentiation. Concerning the whole country, environmental regulation has a significant negative effect on regional innovation output, but its own spatial cluster phenomenon is not significant, and there is no space spillover. (2) There are differences between environmental regulation and regional innovation output in the eastern, central and western regions, in which the negative correlation between environmental regulation in the eastern region on regional innovation output has spillover effects in the region, and the direct effect in the central region is not significant, while the results in the western region are not significantly different from the full sample results. Finally, based on the research conclusions, we apply some policy recommendations from the perspectives of diversity of environmental policy, corporate innovation incentives, government officials’ assessment, local government policy autonomy and sustainable development concept.
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