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Prof. Klaus Hubacek, Dr. Yuli Shan and co authors publish new innovative study; China’s cities are leading the way on carbon reduction

29 August 2022

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Super-emitting cities with outdated technologies and lower production efficiency should develop stringent policies and targets for emissions reduction, while less developed regions could have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).

The experiences and lessons learned from those 59 Chinese cities which have reduced their CO2 emissions cities can be used as benchmarks for other cities."

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.”

read the  publication 

Last modified:06 September 2022 2.29 p.m.
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