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Low carbon city work in China

The Carbon Trust has been involved in low carbon city development in China since 2009.

We started with a low carbon city programme for Nanchang, the capital city of Jiangxi province, which was later appointed as one of the first low carbon city pilots by China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

Nanchang low carbon development

Throughout the two year programme the Carbon Trust worked with the city government to understand and develop its carbon and energy governance arrangements and helped identify the most cost effective ways to progress city-wide carbon reduction work. Together with Xiamen University and Atkins, we conducted over 500 surveys on civil emission data within the city administered area, and delivered a low carbon city programme toolkit as well as a carbon emission baseline and forecasting tool based on survey results and policy analysis.

Both the toolkit and forecasting tool have been adopted by the Nanchang city government. The low carbon development plan was incorporated into Nanchang’s 12th Five-Year-Plan guidelines, approved by the city’s legislature. Recommendations were made on the carbon intensity reduction target of 50% by 2020 from the 2008 baseline, supported by the economic and urban development strategies to achieve them. The lessons learned from this project were submitted to the National Development and Reform Commission for sharing with other cities around China.

Nangchang china

Zhongshan Low Carbon Service Zone

On specific aspects of low carbon cities, we have been assisting the city of Zhongshan, a manufacturing hub in South China’s Pearl River Delta, with establishing a Low Carbon Service Zone since 2016. Following a similar process, we engage and mobilise city stakeholders that are either currently using or are considering using low carbon services such as energy auditing and energy (efficiency) management services. We design and conduct tailored surveys to quantify their needs to construct a demand model. Via scoping and prioritisation, we identify the key services that are financially sustainable and have the greatest emissions reduction potential before engaging with district administrations to create policy and financial incentives, to attract companies and services that meet the low carbon service profile.

Leveraging Carbon Trust’s global expertise in low carbon services, we use an evidence-based approach with in-depth local knowledge to shape policy design, incentive schemes and management structure for the Low Carbon Service Zone. The development of the Low Carbon Service Zone is designed to be scalable such that not only industries in Zhongshan can benefit, but also is impactful in a wider region in Guangdong province where manufacturing continues to play a key role in the economy.


In 2016, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Carbon Trust and the Zhongshan government, to promote wider city-level exchanges and cooperation in low carbon development.

A low carbon sister city initiative has been initiated since and we are in the process of identifying compatible UK cities to Zhongshan’s municipal government, to encourage 1) benchmarking city services 2) policy and governance best practice sharing, and 3) business opportunity exchange in mutually complementary sectors.

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