Is Your City Really Sustainable? A Tale of Jinan City Using Quantitative Low- Carbon Eco-city Tools
Low-carbon eco-city development is one of the key approaches taken by the Chinese government to achieve its international commitment of reducing carbon intensity by 40% to 45% by 2020, as well as other national targets. Cities have planned and implemented various measures to fulfill these goals; however, most of the plans lacked explicit targets, metrics, and implementation mechanisms, and strategies undertaken are often too vague and piecemeal, therefore hindering their effectiveness. To fill these gaps and significantly accelerate the speed of developing low-carbon and eco-city plans, and to facilitate selection and implementation of sound policy apparatus at a large scale, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has developed multiple tools based on both international and Chinese best practices. This paper introduces the application of two of the tools in Jinan, China. The Benchmarking and Energy Saving Tool for Low Carbon Cities (BEST Cities) focuses on energy savings and carbon emissions reduction potential and strategies. The Eco and Low-carbon Indicator Tool for Evaluating Cities (ELITE Cities) has a broader scope that includes air, water, and land use. These tools help cities benchmark and evaluate performance, track progress, and provide practical and scientific prescriptions. This paper sheds light on understanding where a city falls on the path to sustainability, quantifies the city's sectoral energy- and carbon-saving potentials, and reveals challenges and barriers a city may have in implementing the tools and policies. The prioritized policy recommendations made are based on the carbon savings impact, the city's capacity to act, and the government's program costs.