Euro-China GE: Dynamics of Green Growth in European and Chinese Cities (DRAGON)

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: International Development


We are an international consortium formed by six leading research institutes in the field of green economy. Our GOAL is to develop robust evidence on green growth in both EU and Chinese cities and to draw lessons to facilitate a transition towards sustainable development in EU and Chinese cities. Our team has brought strong and multi-disciplinary expertise into this project from aspects of urban development, environmental economics, economy-energy-environmental modelling, carbon accounting and policy analysis for technology transfers.
Green growth means shifting to a development model where environmental protection and economic growth complement each other, rather than being contradictory. Generating 85% of Europe's GDP, 80% of energy consumption and 75% of carbon emissions, cities have a central role to play in this process. European cities are striving for green growth. They are adapting local regulation and raising citizen awareness. Recently, the EU has launched the Europe 2020 strategy that sets out sustainable growth as one of its priorities, alongside smart and inclusive growth: 'making our production more resource efficient while boosting our competitiveness' . On the other hand, China will play a pivotal role in the fight against climate change given due to its immense size and need to develop. Shifting Chinese cities to a green growth path is a critical part of the fight. Chinese cities home 46% of the population and contribute 75% of the Chinese national economy and nearly 85% of CO2 emissions. The nexus between urban evolution and emission mitigation is the key in China's green growth. While the green-growth debate is becoming more prominent at the international level, understanding how to operationalise green-growth strategies is still lacking at more local levels. The key challenges remain:
Challenge 1: What are the dynamics of emission trends in Chinese cities at different urbanisation and industrialisation stages? Energy and greenhouse gases (GHGs) emission inventories are usually built at national level. But no such international framework exists requiring measurements of city emissions or providing detailed methodological guidance for conducting an urban emissions inventory. We will construct city level emission inventories.
Challenge 2: What factors are driving emission growth in cities? Quantification of emission driving forces has been extensively studies at the national level. Few studies have found at the city level. Understanding the key factors in driving the emission growth, one can target the problem more specific to reduce emissions in cities.
Challenge 3: What are the sources of green growth in cities and how can we support green growth? Green growth can open up new sources of growth through increasing resource efficiencies and economic productivities, supporting technology innovations, creation of new market, boosting business confidence in green growth and enhance economic stability. Institutional arrangements and economic incentives are the key to sustain the sources of growth in cities. New institutional arrangements will need to be established to guide the development of green growth strategies and to overcome the institutional inertia and silos that exist around economic and environmental policy making.
Challenge 4: How to use interventions to transform cities to green growth? Cities are the centre of transitioning towards green economy. Green growth is already underway in both European and Chinese cities. We identify available interventions for green growth and examine the effectiveness of those interventions.

Planned Impact

Our GOAL in this research programme is to develop robust evidence on the scope for, the routes to and the potential limits of green growth strategies in both EU and Chinese cities, and to draw lessons and promote learning to facilitate a transition towards low carbon development in EU and Chinese cities. To secure relevance and enhance impact, the research programme will engage with key stakeholders from different levels (international, national, regional, local) and sectors (public, private and civic) at all stages in the lifecycle of the research. Our engagement, communications and impact strategies will be directly informed by 1) those of the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, a recent evaluation of which concluded that its performance in this area was outstanding; 2) Centre of Energy and Environment Policy Research, an excellent research powerhouse in the subject of sustainable development in China: 3) Sino-German programme on Low carbon city future led by Wuppertal Institute and advised by a global stakeholder committee; and 4) CIRED - an outstanding research think-tank in assisting environmental policy design and advise policy decision making in France and international organisation such as World Bank, OCED and UN.

To ensure maximum profile and impact, we will then structure our activities through three tiers of engagement. For those stakeholders that can become active partners in the research programme (tier 1 partners), we will develop close, formalised, sustained modes of engagement on programme steering committees. These partners will be involved in the meaningful co-production of knowledge, for example by helping us to refine and focus the research objectives, review and select appropriate cases, data sources and methods, review preliminary research findings and draw out the implications and aid the communication of these to different communities of policy and practice. For those stakeholders that have a clear interest in and are engaged in work that is directly relevant to the programme (tier 2 partners), we will develop an engagement plan that seeks to promote active dialogue on the programme, and that invites them to relevant events and workshops and that offers opportunities to engage in the research programme more directly if they want to. For those stakeholders with a broader interest in the findings of the programme, including the media, (tier 3 partners), we will develop clear lines of two-way communication to both inform them about and to hear their comments on the key research findings.

To implement our plan, we will develop bespoke engagement, communication and impact plans for each participating country (China, Germany, France, UK). We employ two dedicated impact ambassadors from both EU (Chu Xia, WI) and Chinese sides (Huanan Li, BIT) to coordinate such processes with support from project investigators and clerical administrator.

Our engagement and impact plans will be based on our already close working relationships with many of the actors and networks at different levels and different sectors. At the international level, members of the consortium already work closely with agencies such as the UN, the OECD, the World Bank, the IFC, ICLEI, the Global Green Growth Institute, The Climate and Development Knowledge Network, the C40 and R20 networks on issues relating to green growth in cities. At the national levels, in each participating country, we have close links with key government departments and development agencies, as well as with relevant private sector partners from related industries and with key NGOs and pressure groups. And at the local level, particularly in the case study cities in each of the participating countries, we have close links with city leaders and local government networks, with economic development agencies, with private sector consultants and service providers and with NGOs and community groups.


10 25 50
Description 1. The research contributes to the knowledge in terms of emission accounting methodology. For the first time, fuel quality is taken into consideration in compiling emission inventories. The results shows that China burn low quality coal and the resulted emission is 9% - 14% smaller than many international agencies estimates.

2. Chinese cities are at different development stage. They have capacity and constraints in achieving emission reduction. Cities can be categories by different types in terms of the industrialisation stages. For energy production and heavy industry type cities, they many focus on efficiency improvements, while light industry and hi-tech manufacturing cities can focus on switching fuel types and upgrade their production structures.
Exploitation Route We have set up an data website - China Emission Accounts and Datasets - The website provides most up-to-date energy, emission and socioeconomic accounting inventories for China, at national, provincial and city level. We publish the dataset for free download for any academic / public purpose. There are currently 10,000 users registered on the website and made 1 million downloads.

Transparency and accuracy together with completeness, consistency, and comparability is written into the Paris Agreement under Article 4.1. The most recent achievement is that our emission accounts and results are adopted by Chinese authority in the latest Chinese official emission amendment accounts which was submitted to United Nation in Jan 2017.
Sectors Energy,Environment

Description The Dragon project results have already made impact in the field of climate change mitigation at global, national and city levels. A robust, accurate and transparent CO2 emission accounting methodology The importance of the transparent and robust data was, for the first time, mentioned at the The Paris Adoption (Dec 2015), the Article 4.1, "Parties shall promote environmental integrity, transparency, accuracy, completeness, comparability and consistency, and ensure the avoidance of double counting". Dabo's methodology published in Nature 2015 both raised awareness and filled the gap of Chinese emission data. Dragon research findings concluded Chinese emissions are 9%-14% overestimated by international data publishing agencies received great public and policy attention. It has been reported by over 200 outlets worldwide in different languages. More importantly, it has triggered a massive debate about transparency and accuracy of emission baseline for climate change mitigation. IPCC and global climate change community reached an agreement that emission data accuracy and transparencies should be a part of climate policy talks. In China, the paper published in Nature 2015 received great attention by domestic media (including debates via WeChat and Weibo). The Chief of Climate Change Negotiations Panel, Zhenhui Xie, responded publicly in January 2016 about the 12% gap between Dabo's research and the Chinese official statistics in 2005. He insisted on the reliability of Chinese official statistics but acknowledged that there are challenges and uncertainties in the data accessibility and availabilities across many developing countries, especially at regional levels. China National Development and Reform Commissions (NDRC) consulted with Dabo him about new data and results presented in Jan 2016. NDRC confirmed: "after we evaluate your research, we conclude your findings provide important references to China's emission inventory compilation" (evidence from NDRC obtained). Chinese authorities assessed our results and adopted as the official stats in 2016. Based on this, China submitted the First Biennial Update Report on Climate Change" to the UNFCCC in Jan 2017. International recognition. The International Energy Agency (IEA) reached out to consult whether CEADs data can be used by IEA for their annual emission estimates. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) would like to adopt the data as their data source for Chinese emissions (I will need to collect evidence for those). Provision of transparent and free database of Chinese emission through CEADs Crowd-sourcing Initially funded by ESRC-DRAGON Project led by Dabo, CEADs was built with the philosophy of 'crowd-sourcing', where a group of interested parties (currently over 50 scholars worldwide) freely working with the CEADs core team on emission data construction and verification. CEADs generates free, transparent, verifiable database whilst other data agencies could not provide. CEADs is also the only data provider for full emission accounts at city level. CEADs improved the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emissions accounting method with a territorial administrative scope. CEADs database is hosted in the website. The first dataset uploaded to the site presents emission inventories from 1997 to 2015, and it will be updated annually. The website provides the most up-to-date inventory of energy, the time-series of CO2 emission inventories for China and its 30 provinces, and socioeconomic accounting for China, as well as analysis on China's low-carbon development. The uniformly formatted emission inventories provide data support for further emission-related research as well as emissions reduction policy-making in China. Some socioeconomic data of the cities, such as GDP, population, industrial structures, are included in the datasets as well. The dataset provides transparent, accurate, complete, comparable, and verifiable data support for further city-level emissions studies and low-carbon/sustainable development policy design. The dataset also offers insights for other countries by providing an emissions accounting method with limited data. Later in its development, CEADs produced templates, online calculators and step-by-step manuals and published them online on its website, calling for crowd-sourcing data gathering for all developing countries and cities. Users CEADs has achieved some outstanding notification by relevant academic colleagues and research groups. CEADs website has been used by over 10k active users from whole academic community, policy stakeholders and the public. Overall so far it has had over 1 million downloads of datasets have been downloaded from the website. There are 30+ papers published in peer-reviewed journals claimed that they were using CEADs datasets with comparison of international statistics, such as IEA, CDIAC and EDGAR databases. Stakeholder workshops CEADs team host a workshop to share the methodology and discuss next generation of emission accounts. This workshop brought international academics, practitioners and data users together to discuss current status of emission data and way forward of data in next generation in July 2017 in Norwich. We invited people from major international data agencies, such as International Energy Agency (IEA), Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Centre (CDIAC) and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), together with other 30+ international experts from Harvard University, University of California and European research institutions. In China, CEADs have hosted three workshops 2017 (70 participants), 2018 (nearly 100 participants) and 2019 (to be held in summer 2019) to provide training to relevant stakeholders in Chinese national and city authorities about our new method in accounting emissions. The purpose of such workshop was to organise key stakeholders such as from Chinese Statistics Bureau, National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Sciences and Technology and local governmental bodies to be informed with latest research findings performed by CEADs team and assess usefulness in policy practice. The way forward Dabo's paper in Nature Geoscience 2018 on Structural decline in China's CO2 emissions triggered national debates about emission peak in China. Chinese government considers to reset their emission target, i.e. an early emission peak / more aggressive mitigation target. The methodology and dataset of city level emission inventory compilations [3] was reported in over 100 news outlets. More than 100 Chinese local authorities have approached CEADs for data sharing and methodology explanations. National Standardization Bureau invited CEADs to submit a proposal to publish the city level emission methodology as a National Standard (to be done by 2020-2021). By doing so, any city to compile emission inventory would be required to adopt CEADs methodology. Currently, a dozen of city authorities, including Shanghai, are working with CEADs team to develop official emission statistics and using for low carbon development strategies and plans. A dozen of cities in China (list them here) have started using CEADs method and datasets to compile their own emission inventory and design their low carbon strategies. CEADs team are closely working with Shanghai local government for city level emission accounts and the Chongming Eco-Island for carbon budget accounts and further emission cap-and-trade mechanism. CEADs will jointly release a National Standard (GB/T) of emission accounts together with the Standardization Administration of China (SAC), the Chinese National Committee of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Electro-technical Commission (IEC). The standard will be the first guideline for multi-scale emission inventory construction of China (to our best knowledge, it's a world first). It will become a guideline for publishing the emission accounts in China at national, provincial and city level. City level authorities may follow the guideline to compile their emissions inventories and make low-carbon strategies. The availability of transparent and reliable datasets also opened up the possibility of policy development in all kind of sectors. Health sector is one of them. The World Health Organization estimates that 25% of death and disease globally is linked to environmental hazards. Dabo was invited to Rockefeller Foundation Economic Council, chaired by former Mexico President and 10 more world policy and business leaders, and became one of the Members of The Rockefeller Foundation Economic Council on Planetary Health. A global planetary health report will be published in end 2020. Dabo worked with former IPCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres and call for business and public to work together on climate change mitigation and drives net emissions to zero by 2050.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Economic

Description Data accuracy and transparency in Paris Agreement for Climate Change
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact The Dragon project results have already made international impact in the field of climate change. The WP1 aims for developing robust and transparent carbon emission accountings for China and its regions. One of Dragon publications in Nature, entitled of "Reduced carbon emission estimates from fossil fuel combustion and cement production in China", have received great public and policy attention. It has been media reports by over 200 outlets worldwide in different languages. IPCC and global climate change community have been advocated emission data accuracy and transparencies. The Paris Adoption (so called Paris Agreement for Climate Change) formally wrote in the Article 4.1 as ""Parties shall account for their nationally determined contributions. In accounting for anthropogenic emissions and removals corresponding to their nationally determined contributions, Parties shall promote environmental integrity, transparency, accuracy, completeness, comparability and consistency, and ensure the avoidance of double counting, in accordance with guidance adopted by the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement".
Description Low carbon development strategy for the city of Bristol
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact Research on green cities has been conducted that joins together research that has been supported by the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy with new research that is emerging as part of the EU-China DRAGON Project on the dynamics of green growth in cities in the EU and China. Supported by CCCEP, the research focused initially on the city of Bristol in the UK where it analysed the energy use and carbon emissions and options for low carbon development in the city. The research report was launched at the international climate talks in Paris in December 2015, and it has underpinned the development of a new low carbon development strategy for the city of Bristol. Supported by the DRAGON Project, the research is now being extended to consider the embedded energy and carbon emissions associated with consumption in the city of Bristol. The research finds that including these embedded emissions in the analysis trebles the size of the carbon footprint of the city. It also highlights some major carbon reduction opportunities that have thus far been invisible and it suggests that cities may find much more carbon and potentially also cost effective opportunities for carbon reduction than those that are commonly recognised. In the coming months, the research will be extended to other cities in the UK, and used as the basis for a study that compares UK and Chinese cities.
Description Research results used by China's First Biennial Update Report on Climate Change submitted to UNFCCC
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
Impact China submitted the First Biennial Update Report on Climate Change" to the united nations framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC). China publishes its official greenhouse gases (GHG) emission inventory of 2012 in the report. There is only a 2.87% gap between the official emissions and Dragon research results, which is within the 5% statistical difference, comparing with 10%-20% with international agencies like IEA, CDIAC, EDGAR.
Title China emission accounts and datasets ( 
Description China Emission Accounts and Datasets provides you the most up-to-date energy, emission and socioeconomic accounting inventories for China. All datasets published by CEADs are the results of current research projects funded by Research Council UK, Newton Fund, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, Chinese Academy of Sciences. All data is free to download for academic usages. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Serving for the public, the academic community, fully transparent, validatable, comparable, and free database. There are 1000+ users and 10k downloads since 2016.