Progress and gaps on low carbon actions for Chinese cities

By Yang Li
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, December 15, 2015
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Low carbon development of China's cities will be critical to achieve the nation's climate mitigation targets.

Cities represent the biggest share of China's total energy consumption and energy-related CO2 emissions. They are hubs of economic activities and employment attracting inward migration from surrounding rural regions.

In 2014, 749.16 million people lived in urban area, accounting for 54.77% of total population. This explains why power and industrial activities are major sources of pollution in most cities. Buildings and transportation will also become potentially important emission-intensive sectors with the acceleration of urbanization.

The urbanization rate in 2020 is planned to reach 60%, representing almost an annual average growth rate of 1%, which inevitably will lead to a parallel annual increase in total energy consumption. Low carbon development of China's cities will be critical to achieve the nation's climate mitigation targets, therefore.

As municipal governments have central decision-making authority in local economic development and public services that will influence GHG emissions, how to adopt policies and actions on low carbon development into city administration is a significant challenge. To this end, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has launched a low-carbon pilot including six provinces and 36 cities to carry out practical activities and identify appropriate measures and patterns to be generalized to promote urban low-carbon development.

During the US-China Climate Leaders' Summit this year, the Alliance of Peaking Pioneering Cities (APPC) was established to embrace nine cities - Guiyang, Beijing, Jilin, Wuhan, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Zhenjiang, Jinchang and Yan'an - from the pilot 36 low carbon pilot cities.

They are committed to peaking carbon emissions earlier than China's national goal and taking ambitious climate change actions to do so. In general, therefore, low carbon policies, programs and measures for Chinese cities have been preliminary established, and are generally characterized by:

1) Decoupling economic growth from CO2 emissions through economy structural shift to the low carbon sector, including increasing the share of tertiary industry in local GDP;

2) Developing a planning and management system for urban low carbon development, including targets for emission intensity and emission peaking, an action plan that includes a GHG emissions inventory and reporting module, and an advance carbon assessment for any new investment projects;

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