Low Carbon City Initiative (LCCI)

1. Why is the initiative needed?

© Chris Chaplin / WWF-China
A smoke stack in Beijing Central Business District
© Chris Chaplin / WWF-China
China is the most populous country in the world. Its economy is also one of the fastest growing, with annual average GDP growth rates settling in at 9% to 10% over recent decades. The steady growth has attracted global attention for both outstanding economic figures and the potential environmental impacts resulting from the massive increase in energy consumption.

Due to limited resources and environmental capacity at home and abroad, China is impelled to explore a path of sustainable development, which will contribute to development and security at national and international levels. Cities will play an important role in this challenge, because most energy is consumed in cities. In order to protect people and nature from dangerous environmental threats, sustainable development of China's growing cities must become a top priority.

Trend towards rapid urbanization.
The number of cities in China has increased from 193 in 1978 to 661 in 2005, among which 54 are so-called mega-cities and 84 are large cities, compared to, respectively, 13 and 27 in 1978. By the end of 2006, the urbanization rate in China was about 43.6% of the population. This rate is rapidly increasing, with 75% of the population estimated to live in cities by 2050.

Heavy industrialization is on the rise. Energy consumption in heavy industries - such as iron and steel, chemicals and energy - accounts for 70% of the total in the industrial sector, and is still growing at a fast pace. Industries themselves represent 70% of China's total energy consumption. Heavy industry provides the goods and products which are increasingly consumed in cities

Energy consumption in cities is increasing rapidly. The energy consumption increase in China's cities does not only result from rapid industrialization, but also from the buildings and transportation sectors. There are 17 billion m2 of buildings in China's urban areas, with 1 billion m2 added each year. China's vehicle population is also growing quickly, having surpassed 150 million by June 2007. In addition, urban energy consumption per capita is estimated to be three times higher than that of rural areas. The annual migration of approximately 10 million people from rural areas to urban centers projects a scenario of continued and rapid increase in urban energy consumption.

Energy consumption causes serious environmental problems in cities. Vehicle emissions remain the biggest source of air pollution in cities. The pollution is the result of factors such as inappropriate urban planning, insufficient public transportation investment, growing vehicle numbers and low gas emission control standards.

The Chinese government attaches great importance to climate change and is creating a series of policies and measures to address the issue. One of the government's initiatives to reduce the country's contribution to climate change was to establish a national target to decrease energy intensity by 20% by 2010. In a move to help China achieve this target, and to facilitate national and international low carbon development, WWF - with the support of local and global partners - will implement a Low Carbon City Initiative (LCCI) in China in the next 5 years.

2. What is the initiative about?

LCCI will explore low carbon development models in different cities, working to improve energy efficiency in industry, construction and transportation sectors.

It will also address the development of renewable energy and ensure that other cities in China can learn from successful experiences and replicate them.
LCCI will focus on:

  • Supporting the research and the implementation of policies which contribute to low carbon development,
  • Supporting capacity building on energy efficiency and renewable energy, and support demonstration projects,
  • Promoting energy efficient technology transfer and cooperation between China and developed countries,
  • Exploring new finance and investment instruments and sustainable trade opportunities for energy efficiency and renewable energy industry,
  • Improving public awareness on climate change in order to enable and encourage Chinese citizens to save energy and the environment.

The Toronto skyline from Lake Ontario.
© Marc Lightson/WWF

3. Where does the initiative start?

In the first stage, cooperative pilot projects will be implemented in the cities of Shanghai and Baoding. At a later stage more cities will be selected and join the Initiative. Shanghai:
  • New eco-building demonstrations including policy research on eco-building promotion and demonstration
  • Energy efficiency improvement of existing large commercial buildings including demonstration projects to promote energy consumption management systems, energy auditing and retrofitting, energy efficient operation, capacity building and international cooperation
  • 20 ways to 20% energy saving campaign, to raise public awareness of energy efficiency, and to extensively engage the people of China in energy saving
  • Networking on sustainable energy knowledge management and technology cooperation including information database and service platform on renewable energy, patent pre-warning mechanism on renewable energy technology, technology exchange and training
  • Encouraging the investment in and export of sustainable energy products including policy research on ways to promote the renewable energy industry, training on international trade measures of renewable energy products, and exchange of investment and financing in the renewable energy industry
  • Capacity building in city planning and industrial park development including design and implementation of a Solar Energy Demonstration City action plan and Wind Energy Industrial Park development plan, and development of certification service and public technology platforms
LCCI will also conduct activities in Beijing focusing on low carbon development policy, promoting the best practices derived from the pilot projects, and making the 20 ways to 20% energy saving campaign a success.

Exploring the low carbon city development path is promising yet challenging, and more participation and support from governments, research institutes, companies and international organizations is required. WWF will develop and deliver all LCCI activities together with partners on this open platform, joining global actions to combat climate change.


  • Energy Research Institute of the National Development and Reform Commission
  • Shanghai Construction and Communication Commission
  • National Renewable Energy Industrial Production Base (Baoding)
  • Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association
  • Chinese Wind Energy Association
  • Shanghai Research Institute of Building Science
  • Administration of Baoding National Hi-tech Industry Development Zone
  • HSBC Climate Partnership
  • WWF -UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark