Contested energy futures, conflicted rewards? Examining low-carbon transition risks and governance dynamics in China's built environment
China's urbanisation has caused city populations to grow rapidly, boosting continuous development and scaling up the construction industry more intensely. The building sector is thus a key area to consider for climate change mitigation efforts. This study initially seeks to explore the development of a green transition pathway for the Chinese building sector, informed by national and local low-carbon policies and strategies, with specific references to Beijing and Shanghai. Acknowledging that the barriers and impacts of these policies have not been explored in depth and in consideration of the multiplicity of stakeholder views, we then set out to collect stakeholders’ perspectives of implementation and consequential risks associated with the envisaged transition and with the policies aiming to promote this transition. These concerns are evaluated in a multiple-criteria group decision making approach. By focusing on the resulting most critical implementation barriers, we then outline five plausible socioeconomic scenarios, against which we simulate the impacts of the considered policy strategies on the low-carbon transition of the Chinese built environment as well the extent of their key possible negative consequences, by means of fuzzy cognitive maps.
Integrated policy assessment and optimisation over multiple sustainable development goals in Eastern Africa
Heavy reliance on traditional biomass for household energy in eastern Africa has significant negative health and environmental impacts. The African context for energy access is rather different from historical experiences elsewhere as challenges in achieving energy access have coincided with major climate ambitions. Policies focusing on household energy needs in eastern Africa contribute to at least three sustainable development goals (SDGs): climate action, good health, and improved energy access. This study uses an integrated assessment model to simulate the impact of land policies and technology subsidies, as well as the interaction of both, on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, exposure to air pollution and energy access in eastern Africa under a range of socioeconomic pathways. We find that land policies focusing on increasing the sustainable output of biomass resources can reduce GHG emissions in the region by about 10%, but also slightly delay progress in health and energy access goals. An optimised portfolio of energy technology subsidies consistent with a global Green Climate Funds budget of 30–35 billion dollar, can yield another 10% savings in GHG emissions, while decreasing mortality related to air pollution by 20%, and improving energy access by up to 15%. After 2030, both land and technology policies become less effective, and more dependent on the overall development path of the region. The analysis shows that support for biogas technology should be prioritised in both the short and long term, while financing liquefied petroleum gas and ethanol technologies also has synergetic climate, health and energy access benefits. Instead, financing PV technologies is mostly relevant for improving energy access, while charcoal and to a lesser extend fuelwood technologies are relevant for curbing GHG emissions if their finance is linked to land policies. We suggest that integrated policy analysis is needed in the African context for simultaneously reaching progress in multiple SDGs.