Transition to a low-carbon city: lessons learned from Suzhou in China

Wenling Liu Wenling, Wang Can, Xie Xi, A.P.J. Mol, Chen Jining

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Climate change has become one of the most serious challenges facing humanity; developing a low-carbon economy provides new opportunities for addressing this issue. Building a low-carbon city has been pursued by people with a high degree of enthusiasm in China. Different from actions at the national level and distinct from practices of developed countries, low-carbon development in Chinese cities should be placed on diverse concerns. Taking Suzhou of Jiangsu Province of China as a case city, this paper adopts a scenario analysis approach to explore strategic focal points in the transition to a low-carbon city. Within this transition, we mainly focus on the different contributions from two factors-economic restructuring and technological upgrading. Scenario analysis results show that 1) in the case of no breakthrough technologies, it is difficult to achieve absolute emission reductions; 2) technologies involved in optimizing energy structure and improving energy efficiency of basic service sectors should be highly emphasized in local planning; 3) in comparison with technological upgrading, economic structural adjustment could be a stronger contributor to mitigation, which is one of the main differences from developed countries. However, the key issue of economic restructuring is to promote the growth of emerging low-carbon industries, which requires not only a strategic choice of new industries but also an introduction of advanced low-carbon technologies. It is also found that establishing a local carbon emissions accounting system is a prerequisite and the first priority for realizing a low-carbon transition and government capacity buildings should be strengthened accordingly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-386
JournalFrontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • developing-countries
  • road transport
  • co2 emissions
  • mitigation

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