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Chinese Cities As Leaders in Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Efforts

LOS ANGELES — A new research report, “The Role of Chinese Cities in Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction,” released today at the U.S. China Climate Leaders Summit in Los Angeles highlights the crucial role of Chinese cities in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction efforts and describes additional opportunities for urban climate action.

The report, issued by the China Energy Group of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Stockholm Environment Institute with the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies, found that China’s urban energy-related CO2 emissions are responsible for 58 percent of China’s total energy-related CO2 emissions. These urban emissions are dominated by emissions from manufacturing facilities, industrial parks and heavy industries such as cement and steel plants located near cities. Buildings represent about a quarter of urban CO2 emissions, divided relatively evenly between residential and commercial/public buildings, while about 13 percent of emissions are from transportation.

If China’s cities do not adopt further energy-efficiency and low-carbon measures, the report found that urban CO2 emissions will more than triple by 2042. However, this trajectory can be altered.

China has been a leader in taking climate action in the past several years and has established initiatives such as the Program for Low-Carbon Pilot Provinces and Cities, which created 36 “low-carbon” pilot cities and six “low-carbon” provinces, and the Program for Carbon Trading in Pilot Cities and Provinces. Further, in June 2015, China announced reduction targets via its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) focusing on peaking CO2 emissions around 2030 or sooner, increasing the share of non-fossil energy in total primary energy to 20 percent by 2030, and reducing the carbon intensity (CO2 emissions per unit of GDP) of its economy by 60 to 65 percent by 2030 compared with 2005.

As the Chinese economy continues to undergo rapid urbanization and sustained growth, China’s cities will have an especially large and important role to play in developing and deploying low-carbon urban design and infrastructure features that will have long-lasting effects on the country’s GHG emissions trajectory.

The report highlights the following opportunities for Chinese cities to achieve low-carbon urban development:

  • Integrate low-carbon development and sustainability efforts with regular city planning efforts. Secure commitment from city mayors and other leaders for the greatest impact, and implement systematic reporting standards of urban GHG data to enable benchmarking within and across cities to track progress toward a low-carbon urban future.
  • Improve energy efficiency and reduce demand for urban industry by improving industrial energy efficiency and promoting higher-quality construction and better product design.
  • Promote green, passive, low-energy buildings and implement stringent local building energy codes.
  • Improve efficiency of electricity use in urban industry and buildings, and decarbonize electricity supply by prioritizing and appropriately pricing renewable energy.
  • Provide access to and promote low-carbon methods of transportation, including walking and biking, as well as enabling easy access to public transit. Improve freight logistics and load factors while switching to lower carbon delivery vehicles.

To read the full report, please visit: The Role of Chinese Cities in Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction: Briefing on Urban Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

About Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world’s most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab’s scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. For more information, visit

About Stockholm Environment Institute
SEI is an independent international research institute engaged in environment and development issues at local, national, regional and global policy levels for more than 25 years. SEI was formally established in 1989 by the Swedish Government and celebrated its 25th anniversary in October 2014. SEI’s goal is to bring about change for sustainable development by bridging science and policy by providing integrated analysis that supports decision-makers. The institute has built a reputation for rigorous and objective scientific analysis in the field of environment and development. For more information, visit:

About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ mission is to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Public Health, Environment, Education, Government Innovation and the Arts. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $462 million. For more information, please visit or follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter @BloombergDotOrg.

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