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How can China achieve its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions by 2030? A multi-criteria allocation of China’s carbon emission allowance

Fang, Kai, Zhang, Qifeng, Long, Yin, Yoshida, Yoshikuni, Sun, Lu, Zhang, Haoran, Dou, Yi, Li, Shuai
Applied energy 2019 v.241 pp. 380-389
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, anthropogenic activities, carbon, carbon dioxide, emissions factor, energy, global warming, greenhouse gas emissions, issues and policy, models, China
Accelerating global warming has suggested the importance of controlling greenhouse gas emissions associated with human activities. In striving to fulfill the Paris Agreement, China has announced its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) aimed at reducing its carbon dioxide (CO2) emission intensity by 60–65% in 2030 against the level of 2005. However, China’s INDCs cannot be fulfilled without formulating appropriate schemes for the allocation of carbon emission allowance (CEA) at sub-national scales. To help close the gap in our knowledge, this paper starts with measuring the overall CEA of China by 2030, and then proposes a science-based scheme for CEA allocation by developing an improved zero sum gains-data envelopment analysis (ZSG-DEA) model. It demonstrates that the final CEA of some northern provinces can be cut down as compared to their initial shares and, conversely, most southern provinces experience an increase in their CEA. Comparing the final share of CEA by province with current carbon emissions, we observe that provinces with abundant energy reserves, such as Shanxi, Inner Mongolia and Shaanxi, tend to be operating in a state of overshoot in terms of space for carbon emissions (SCE). In contrast, there remains SCE when it comes to Guangdong, Hunan, Fujian, etc. The remaining provinces, such as Heilongjiang, Hebei and Ningxia, are close to the break-even point. In view of the differing SCE of individual provinces, common but differentiated policies for CO2 emission control would be the key to achieving China’s INDCs. The research findings lay a scientific basis for the Chinese government to make its INDCs come true through inter-provincial collaboration on emission reduction, but also serve as a reference for fueling further scientific discussions and development of schemes for the allocation of responsibility for carbon emissions at multiple scales within and beyond China.