Building Low-Carbon Cities to Cap Coal and Oil Consumption


To reduce the coal and oil consumption and promote low-carbon urbanization in Chinese cities, China Coal Cap Project and Oil Cap Project released two research reports respectively - “Study on Wuhan’s Total Coal Consumption Cap Plan and Policy in the Latter Period of the 13th Five-Year Plan” and “The Carbon Reduction Pathways for the City of Hangzhou under an Oil Cap Scenario” on August 15. Representatives from government agencies, domestic and overseas research institutes, enterprises and environmental NGOs attended the event.

The first report shows that during the first-half of the “13th Five-Year Plan,” coal cap measures in Wuhan achieved significant results. The growth rate of total energy consumption has gradually slowed with coal consumption undergoing major reductions. The energy structure is slowly shifting towards natural gas, electricity, and non-fossil fuel resources, indicating a trend to cleaner energy, while the industrial structure continues to improve. Pollutant emissions have decreased dramatically, leading to noticeably better air quality. Through reducing the capacity of key coal-consuming enterprises, shutting down or upgrading high coal-consuming equipment, expanding zones that prohibit burning coal, comprehensively managing dispersed coal, and eliminating small industrial coal furnaces or promoting clean energy substitution projects, among other control measures, coal consumption decreased 6.38 million tons between 2015 and 2018. Wuhan’s total coal consumption in 2018 was 27.5 million tons, a figure that met the target of 28.88 million tons set in the “13th Five-Year Plan” ahead of schedule.

The second report shows that according to historical data on Hangzhou’s emissions, current carbon emissions from the city have already reached a periodic peak. As a result of transformations in industry, clean power, and the closure of coal-fired power plants, carbon emissions increased and then subsequently decreased in recent years, carbon intensity continues to decrease, and the proportion of indirect emissions from electricity surpassed coal in 2016, becoming the largest source of carbon emissions. Emissions reductions from industrial sectors are currently the primary cause of decreasing carbon emissions. However, with increases in the marginal cost of energy-saving measures and an economic uptick, there are signs of a rebound in carbon emissions.

This research sets three scenarios (reference, low-carbon, and oil cap) that consider different levels of low-carbon development in energy and industrial transitions, building, transportation, and daily living, among other areas. Under the oil cap scenario, oil consumption will peak in 2023 at approximately 5 million tons (around 7 million tons of standard coal equivalent).

After releasing the two reports, the China Sustainable Cites Project collectively hosted a roundtable discussion with 10 other INGOs to discuss how to address challenges and opportunities for early emissions peaking in Chinese cities. Experts from Chinese Academy of Social Sciences City Development and Environment Institute, Wuhan Planning & Design Institute and Hangzhou Environment Information Center also participated in the roundtable discussion.

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