Carbon Mitigation and Environmental Co-Benefits of a Clean Energy Transition in Chinas Industrial Parks

Publication Year


Journal Article

Industrial parks are emerging priorities for carbon mitigation. Here we analyze air quality, human health, and freshwater conservation co-benefits of decarbonizing the energy supply of 850 China’s industrial parks. We examine a clean energy transition including early retirement of coal-fired facilities and subsequent replacement with grid electricity and onsite energy alternatives (municipal solid waste-to-energy, rooftop photovoltaic, and distributed wind power). We find that such a transition would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 41% (equal to 7% of 2014 national CO2 equivalent emissions); emissions of SO2 by 41%, NOx by 32%, and PM2.5 by 43% and freshwater consumption by 20%, relative to a 2030 baseline scenario. Based on modeled air pollutant concentrations, we estimate such a clean energy transition will result in ∼42,000 avoided premature deaths annually due to reduced ambient PM2.5 and ozone exposure. Costs and benefits are monetized including technical costs of changes in equipment and energy use and societal benefits resulting from improvements in human health and reductions of climate impacts. We find that decarbonizing industrial parks brings annual economic benefits of US$30–156 billion in 2030. A clean energy transition in China’s industrial parks thus provides both environmental and economic benefits.

Environmental Science & Technology