China Emissions Accounts and Low-Carbon Development in Cities

Shan, Yuli (2018) China Emissions Accounts and Low-Carbon Development in Cities. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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China, the world’s second-largest economy, has witnessed a miracle in its economic growth. With lifestyle changes and rapid economic growth in China, China’s CO2 emissions have tripled during the past decades. China is now the world leading energy consumer and CO2 emitter. China is playing an increasingly important role in global emissions reduction and climate change mitigation.

The accurate account of CO2 emissions is the foundation of any emission analysis and further reduction actions. However, there are no official published emission inventories in China. All the previous studies calculated China’s emissions by themselves, making the emissions inconsistent and incomparable with each other. The first part of this PhD thesis compiles the time-series Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) territorial CO2 emission inventories for China and its provinces from 1997 to 2015. The multi-scale emissions inventories are constructed in a uniform format (by 46 socioeconomic sectors and 17 fossil fuels). An open-access database “” is built based on this PhD study. CEADs is the first open-access emission database providing self-consistent and transparent data for China.

Chapter 4 finds that the total CO2 emissions of China increased rapidly during the past 16 years with an average increase of 7.8% per year. The emissions peaked in 2013, at 9,534 million tonnes (Mt). The detailed analysis of the CO2 emissions by sectors and fossil fuel sources finds that coal-related fuels and the manufacturing sectors, especially the “power and heat”, are the primary contributor to the national emissions. Chapter 4 also examines the per capita CO2 emissions and the emission intensity of China. The results show that the per capita emissions increased quickly from 2.4 (2000) to 6.7 (2015) tonnes, while the emission intensity keeps decreasing during the period. Both comparison and Monte Carlo uncertainty analyses are conducted to China’s emissions. The result shows that the uncertainties of the national CO2 emissions are roughly (-15%, 25%) at a 97.5% confidential level.

Similar analyses are conducted at the provincial level in Chapter 4 as well. The results show that Shandong emitted the most CO2 cumulatively among the 30 provinces, followed by Hebei, Jiangsu, Guangdong, and Henan. The fossil fuel and sector-specific analysis of the provincial CO2 emissions describe detailed emissions of each province. The per capita emissions and emission intensities of each province are also presented in this study.

In order to have a better understanding of China’s CO2 emissions, Chapter 5 provides further analysis of emission characteristics of the lime industry and petroleum coke for the first time. The lime industry is the second largest process-related emission contributor followed by the cement. The results show that, in 2012, the process-related CO2 emissions in China’s lime production accounted for 141.72 Mt, while the electricity and fossil fuel-related emissions accounted for 55.95 and 4.42 (Mt) respectively. Further discussions of the reduction policy recommendations of China’s lime industry are presented in this study based on the economic and environmental assessment of different lime kilns. As for the petroleum coke consumption, its combustion produced 26.2 Mt CO2, 807 tonnes CH4, and 137 tonnes N2O in 2014. The petroleum coke-related emissions are increasing fast. During the past five years, its emissions increased by 87%, which is remarkably high compared to the 19.4% growth rate of total CO2 emissions in China. Considering the petroleum coke is a dirty and un-environmental friendly fossil fuel type, the quick growth of petroleum coke consumption should be of serious concern to the government.

Further to the national and provincial emission inventories, Chapter 7 examines the CO2 emissions from Tibet and its cities. This is the first study to quantify Tibet’s emissions. The results show that Tibet emitted a total of 5.52 Mt of CO2 related to fossil fuel combustion and cement production in 2014. The per capita and emission intensity of Tibet are much lower than the national average level. The city-level analysis shows that over half of Tibet’s CO2 emissions are induced in Lhasa city.

The second part of this PhD thesis examines the CO2 emissions from Chinese cities and discusses the possible low-carbon development pathways of cities at different industrialisation and development stages. Being the basic units for human activities and major contributors to emissions, cities are major components in the implementation of climate change mitigation and CO2 emission reduction policies. Increasing attention is now being paid to city-level emission reduction and climate change mitigation in China.

Chapter 3 firstly develops a series of methods to compile CO2 emission inventories for Chinese cities with different data availabilities. The emission inventories of cities are constructed with the consistent scope and uniform with the national and provincial emission inventories calculated above. Chapter 6 then applies the methods to examine emissions characteristics in 182 cities. The results show that the top-emitting cities represent a disproportionately large fraction of the total emissions from the 182 cities. The top five emitting cities (Tangshan, Shanghai, Suzhou, Nanyang, and Chongqing) accounts for 11% of the total emissions. More high-emitting cities can be found in northern and eastern China compared with other regions.

Chapter 6 further applies the cluster analysis to cluster the 182 case cities into five groups with distinct pillar industries describing their different industrialisation stages and development pathways. The results find that there is labour division among Chinese cities, the most developed cities (service-based and high-tech industry cities) are supported by nearby manufacturing cities. In turn, the manufacturing cities are supported by nearby energy production centres. In this way, different cities should have different low-carbon roadmaps designed based on their current industrialisation stages and development pathways.

Chapter 6 also finds that efficiency gains could be a practical and effective way to reduce CO2 emissions. The sectoral-based calculation of the cities’ emission reduction capacities via technical improvements show that up 31% of the 182 cities’ emissions can be reduced if the strongest reduction strategies been applied. The results suggest that China’s near-term goals of reducing its emissions intensity may be feasibly accomplished by targeted technological improvements, buying time for the longer-term strategies of shifting to non-fossil energy and a more service-based economy. Moreover, improving and optimizing the energy and carbon efficiency of industrial production processes and operations could help lower the costs of advanced technologies and thus facilitate their deployment in less-developed cities and countries beyond China.

This PhD study has great real-world significance and has filled in several research gaps in China’s emission accounts and cities’ low-carbon development. The research also provides solid and robust data support for future academic research on China’s emission topics and emission reductions policy-making in China. First of all, this PhD study provides the first open-access China emission database providing the multi-scale CO2 emission inventories. Secondly, this PhD study analyses the detailed emission characteristics of China, its provinces, and cities, as well selected key industries. Specific and efficient emission control policies targeting the major emission sources are discussed based on the analysis. Also, based on the city-level emission accounts, this PhD study analyses the low-carbon roadmaps for cities at different industrialisation stages and development pathways.

Furthermore, considering the wide ranges of Chinese cities’ industrialisation maturity, the cross-section analysis of China’s cities may disclose the emissions characteristics of the whole industrialisation process. The emission reduction roadmaps designed in this study for cities at different industrialisation stages also provide references for other developing countries at similar stages of industrialisation.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of International Development
Depositing User: Bruce Beckett
Date Deposited: 23 Jul 2018 10:39
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2023 07:29

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