Shanghai's carbon emission volume is estimated to reach seven times its current level by 2020 if the city government does not take environmental protection measures, says a report from the Tongji University yesterday.
Energy consumption in the city creates 58.05 million tons of carbon emissions every year of which 90 percent are caused by industry and business rather than everyday household consumption.
Coal burning is the largest carbon emission source, accounting for 57 percent of the total.
The green areas, farmlands and wetlands around the city can absorb about five million tons of carbons every year. This puts the city's net carbon emission volume at 0.58 ton per 10,000 yuan (US$1,351) of GDP in 2005, the report said.
With an annual GDP growth rate of about 10 percent and an energy efficiency at the current level, researchers said the city's carbon emissions are expected to exceed 350 million tons by 2020.
"Clearly Shanghai is facing extremely high pressures over carbon emissions which are a major cause of the greenhouse effect and global warming," said Li Fengting, associate dean of Tongji's institute for environment and sustainable development.
Sponsored by HSBC China, Tongji researchers launched a regional carbon emission studies program in Shanghai and another four cities in the Yangtze River Delta, including Suzhou, Wuxi, Ningbo and Nantong.
The first phase of the two-year program was carried out in Shanghai to investigate and look into the future of the city's carbon emissions.
Researchers analyzed four different situations: maintaining the current GDP growth and energy efficiency; slowing down GDP growth and cutting energy consumption per 10,000 yuan GDP; or changing either of these elements.
Even with concerted efforts to improve energy efficiency, the most optimistic prediction is that emissions might be reduced by 75 percent by 2020 if the city's economic development slows to about five percent and the energy consumption per 10,000 yuan of GDP also drops five percent, the report said.
But a more realistic scenario is the city will continue its current robust economic development and the government will cut energy consumption per 10,000 yuan of GDP by two percent a year. That would help Shanghai's carbon emissions to settle at less than 300 million tons by 2020.
"This would mean the city should focus on economic development for the commercial and service sectors and not on the traditional industrial and agricultural programs to achieve lower carbon emissions," Li said yesterday.
All About Carbon emission, GDP growth(Shanghai Daily December 13, 2007)