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BBL - Role of Cities in Global Carbon Emissions and their Management - November 20, 2008

Co-sponsored by the Urban Environment and Climate Change Thematic Group and EAP Urban

Role of Cities in Global Carbon Emissions and
their Management

Dr. Shobhakar Dhakal,
Executive Director
Centre for Global Environment Research
National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES)


With about half of global population living in urban areas, the contribution of urban areas or cities in global energy and carbon emissions are expected to be very important. In last few years, the interests on urban energy and urban carbon management have surged due to rising level of international debates surrounding it. However, the contribution of urban areas or cities is largely not quantified and the dynamics of urban energy use and urban carbon emissions globally and at regional and national scales are less understood. Now, a number of attempts are being made to quantify it at multiple scales-global, regional and national. The shares of such contribution depend on definition of “urban area” or “cities”, energy and emission accounting framework, and how one allocates responsibility of city or urban area.

This talk described these factors that affect such estimation and the challenges that surrounds it due to lack of information at urban level. It further outlined some of the key finding of global and regional urban energy and carbon estimates and analyses by a group of experts, including this author, that is published by International Energy Agency in World Energy Outlook 2008. Based on author’s further analyses, this talk then presented a detail case of China given its speed and size of urban population, rate of growth in energy use, and the perceived influence on global urban energy use. This included the contribution of urban area in national energy use and carbon emissions, the extent of influence of key 35 cities of China, and the detailed historical analyses of four provincial cities- Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing. Finally, the talk summarized major finding and discuss its relevance to urban carbon governance and policy-making.  

Dr. Shobhakar Dhakal , a Nepalese national, is one of two Executive Directors of Global Carbon Project (, an international scientific program under the sponsorship of Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP, hosted by CSIRO Canberra (Australia) and NIES Tsukuba (Japan) and dedicated to better understanding of carbon cycle science and its management. He is leading the Project’s flagship activity titled Urban and Regional Carbon management ( ) in addition to overall management of the project. He has been working in the areas of analyzing urban energy and carbon emissions and the city energy and climate policies since last 7-8 years with focus on Asian mega-cities. Chinese urban energy and city carbon analyses have been one of his key area of interests.

He has  worked closely with a number of global and regional initiatives and international organizations. Some of his ongoing involvement on urban energy and carbon issues are with International Energy Agency, Global Energy Assessment, China Council for International Cooperation on Environment, and International Panel on Cities and Climate Change Assessment. Before joining Global Carbon Project in April  2006, Dr. Dhakal worked as a Senior Policy Researcher and Project manager of Urban Environmental Management Project of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES, Japan ) since 2000. He  holds Ph.D. in urban energy and heat island mitigation from The University of Tokyo, Masters degree in Energy Economics and Planning from Asian Institute of Technology Bangkok and an undergraduate degree on power system from India. He also had studied at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and The University of Hong Kong.    
For Information: Daniel A. Hoornweg

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