Resources Science ›› 2019, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (3): 509-520.doi: 10.18402/resci.2019.03.09

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Mid- to long-term low carbon development pathways of China’s building sector

Junling LIU1,2(), Qixin XIANG2, Ke WANG2(), Ji ZOU2, Ying KONG1,3   

  1. 1. Low Carbon Economy and Financial Risks Analysis Lab, Environmental Science and New Energy Technology Research Center, Tsinghua-Berkeley Shenzhen Institute, Shenzhen 518055, China
    2. School of Environment & Natural Resources, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, China;
    3. Department of Economics, York University, Toronto M3J1P3, Canada
  • Received:2018-09-27 Revised:2018-11-25 Online:2019-03-20 Published:2019-03-20


This article discusses the trends of future driving factors and energy service demands of China’s building sector in the context of urbanization. Three scenarios——business as usual (BAU), nationally determined contribution (NDC), and enhanced low carbon (ELC)——were set in a bottom-up energy system model of building sector (Programme of Energy and Climate Economics (PECE-Building)). The model was used to analyze the energy demand and carbon emission trends of China’s building sector under different development pathways during 2013-2050, and to assess the technology roadmap and investment needs to achieve the sector’s medium- and long-term low carbon development goals. The results show that the energy service demand of China’s building sector will grow rapidly due to the urbanization process and income growth. The sector will become an important source of China’s future energy consumption and carbon emissions growth. Under the BAU scenario, the energy consumption and CO2 emissions of the building sector will increase by 142.8% and 103.1% in 2050 compared with 2013. Under the NDC scenario, the building sector’s CO2 emissions will grow despite of the emission of the whole society reaching the peak. Under the ELC scenario, carbon emission of China’s building sector is expected to peak in 2027 at around 780 million tons, and return to an annual emission of 615 million tons in 2050, which is below the 2013 emission level. Application of energy efficient technologies and new energies will contribute 33.4% and 66.6% of the cumulative emission reduction respectively. Heating in the northern urban areas is the most important mitigation subsector. Compared to BAU, the additional investment under the ELC scenario required to achieve this low carbon development pathway will be RMB 269.4 billion, not exceeding 0.26‰ of GDP in all time periods. Therefore, China’s building sector is able to embark on a technologically viable and economically acceptable low carbon transformation pathway.

Key words: building sector, mid- to long-term low carbon development, technology roadmap, low carbon investment demand, bottom-up model