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City-level climate change mitigation in China

Shan, Yuli and Guan, Dabo and Hubacek, Klaus and Zheng, Bo and Davis, Steven J. and Jia, Lichao and Liu, Jianghua and Liu, Zhu and Fromer, Neil and Mi, Zhifu and Meng, Jing and Deng, Xiangzheng and Li, Yuan and Lin, Jintai and Schroeder, Heike and Weisz, Helga and Schelinhuber, Hans Joachim (2018) City-level climate change mitigation in China. Science Advances, 4 (6). Art. No. eaaq0390. ISSN 2375-2548. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aaq0390.

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As national efforts to reduce CO_2 emissions intensify, policy-makers need increasingly specific, subnational information about the sources of CO_2 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 CO_2 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.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Information
Hubacek, Klaus0000-0003-2561-6090
Zheng, Bo0000-0001-8344-3445
Davis, Steven J.0000-0002-9338-0844
Liu, Zhu0000-0002-8968-7050
Mi, Zhifu0000-0001-8106-0694
Meng, Jing0000-0002-9069-8988
Weisz, Helga0000-0001-8208-5199
Additional Information:© 2018 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (CC BY). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Submitted 25 September 2017. Accepted 21 May 2018. Published 27 June 2018. This work was supported by the National Key R&D Program of China (2016YFA0602604 and 2016YFA0602500), the Natural Science Foundation of China (71533005, 51502103, 71503156, 41629501, and 41501605), the Social Science Foundation of China (15CJY058), the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ES/L016028/1), the Natural Environment Research Council (NE/N00714X/1), a British Academy Grant (AF150310), the Philip Leverhulme Prize, N.F. and Z.L. thank the Resnick Sustainability Institute at Caltech. Author contributions: Y.S. and D.G. designed the research. Y.S., Z.L., Z.M., J.M., Y.L., and H.S. performed the research. Y.S. and J. Liu prepared data. Y.S. and S.J.D. wrote the paper with inputs from K.H., B.Z., J. Lin, X.D., L.J., N.F., H.W., and H.J.S. Data and materials availability: All data needed to evaluate the conclusions in the paper are uploaded to CEADs ( for free download. Additional data related to this paper may be requested from the authors. The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Group:Resnick Sustainability Institute
Funding AgencyGrant Number
National Key Basic Research Program of China2016YFA0602604
National Key Basic Research Program of China2016YFA0602500
National Natural Science Foundation of China71533005
National Natural Science Foundation of China51502103
National Natural Science Foundation of China71503156
National Natural Science Foundation of China41629501
National Natural Science Foundation of China41501605
Social Science Foundation of China15CJY058
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/L016028/1
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)NE/N00714X/1
British AcademyAF150310
Philip Leverhulme PrizeUNSPECIFIED
Resnick Sustainability InstituteUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:6
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20180627-152741323
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Y. Shan, D. Guan, K. Hubacek, B. Zheng, S. J. Davis, L. Jia, J. Liu, Z. Liu, N. Fromer, Z. Mi, J. Meng, X. Deng, Y. Li, J. Lin, H. Schroeder, H. Weisz, H. J. Schellnhuber, City-level climate change mitigation in China. Sci. Adv. 4, eaaq0390 (2018).
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:87418
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:27 Jun 2018 22:48
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 20:48

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