Despite ever-growing economic activity and urban populations, many of China's cities have reduced their carbon dioxide emissions.
Thirty-eight Chinese cities have reduced their emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) despite growing economies and populations for at least five years - defined as proactively peaked cities, a new study reveals.
A further 21 cities have cut CO2 emissions as their economies or populations have ‘declined’ over the same period - defined as passively emission declined cities.
The experts discovered that ‘emission peaked’ cities, such as Beijing and Taizhou (Zhejiang province), achieved emission decline mainly due to efficiency improvements and structural changes in energy use, whilst ‘declining’ cities, such as Fuxin (Liaoning province) and Shenyang (Liaoning province), are likely to have reduced emissions due to economic recession or population loss.
They recommend that instead of using a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, emission targets of cities need to be set individually considering cities’ resources, industrialisation levels, socio-economic characteristics, and development goals.
Super-emitting cities with outdated technologies and lower production efficiency should develop stringent policies and targets for emissions reduction, while less developed regions could have more emission space for economic development.
Publishing their findings in Science Bulletin, an international team of scientists, led by the Universities of Birmingham (UK), Groningen (Netherlands), and Tsinghua University (China) analyses comprehensive CO2 emission inventories of 287 Chinese cities from 2001 to 2019. The authors thank the data contribution from over 190 participants to the Summer School organised by the Carbon Emission Accounts and Datasets for Emerging Economies (CEADs) at Nanjing Normal University (2017) and Tsinghua University (2018 & 2019).
Dr. Yuli Shan - Associate Professor in Sustainable Transitions, University of Birmingham
Professor Klaus Hubacek, one of the co-authors from the University of Groningen comments: “Cities often struggle with economic decline and dwindling resources but at the same time need to keep an eye on mitigation goals and look for synergies to achieve the energy and resource transition.”
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