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City-level climate change mitigation in China

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Abstract

As national efforts to reduce CO2 emissions intensify, policy-makers need increasingly specific, subnational information about the sources of CO2 and the potential reductions and economic implications of different possible policies. This is particularly true in China, a large and economically diverse country that has rapidly industrialized and urbanized and that has pledged under the Paris Agreement that its emissions will peak by 2030. We present new, city-level estimates of CO2 emissions for 182 Chinese cities, decomposed into 17 different fossil fuels, 46 socioeconomic sectors, and 7 industrial processes. We find that more affluent cities have systematically lower emissions per unit of gross domestic product (GDP), supported by imports from less affluent, industrial cities located nearby. In turn, clusters of industrial cities are supported by nearby centers of coal or oil extraction. Whereas policies directly targeting manufacturing and electric power infrastructure would drastically undermine the GDP of industrial cities, consumption-based policies might allow emission reductions to be subsidized by those with greater ability to pay. In particular, sector-based analysis of each city suggests that technological improvements could be a practical and effective means of reducing emissions while maintaining growth and the current economic structure and energy system. We explore city-level emission reductions under three scenarios of technological progress to show that substantial reductions (up to 31%) are possible by updating a disproportionately small fraction of existing infrastructure.

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Original languageEnglish
Article numbereaaq0390
JournalScience Advances
Volume4
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 27 Jun 2018
Peer-reviewedYes

Bibliographic note

Data and materials availability: All data needed to evaluate the conclusions in the paper are uploaded to CEADs (www.ceads.net) for free download. Additional data related to this paper may be requested from the authors.

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