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A Top-Down Regional Assessment of Urban Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Europe

Abstract

This paper provides an account of urban greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 40 countries in Europe and examines covariates of emissions levels. We use a “top-down” analysis of emissions as spatially reported in the Emission Dataset for Global Atmospheric Research supplemented by Carbon Monitoring for Action from 1153 European cities larger than 50 000 population in 2000 (comprising >81 % of the total European urban population). Urban areas are defined spatially and demographically by the Global Rural Urban Mapping Project. We compare these results with “bottom-up” carbon accounting method results for cities in the region. Our results suggest that direct (Scopes 1 and 2) GHG emissions from urban areas range between 44 and 54 % of total anthropogenic emissions for the region. While individual urban GHG footprints vary from bottom-up studies, both the mean differences and the regional energy-related GHG emission share support previous findings. Correlation analysis indicates that the urban GHG emissions in Europe are mainly influenced by population size, density, and income and not by biophysical conditions. We argue that these data and methods of analysis are best used at the regional or higher scales.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    See http://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/kml_files_intro.php.

  2. 2.

    EDGAR uses Gridded Population of the World, Version 3 (GPWv3).

  3. 3.

    See http://themasites.pbl.nl/en/themasites/edgar/documentation/uncertainties/index.html.

  4. 4.

    Scenarios are designed to make projections of possible future climate change. The scenario families contain individual scenarios with common themes, but with different assumptions about future population and economic growth, land use and other driving forces. The resulting output from the scenario family is a range of future emission and impact levels. Among the three scenarios identified in this paper, the B1 scenario provides emissions and impacts between those of the A2R and B2 scenarios and is therefore considered to produce the medium levels of emissions and impact.

  5. 5.

    “Ten Minute Climatology” http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/hrg/tmc/.

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Acknowledgments

This research is part of a study entitled, “Ecosystem Services for an Urbanizing Planet, What 2 billion new urbanites means for air and water,” financed by a grant from the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS project 12455) and The Nature Conservancy. Two reviewers carefully read drafts of the document and provided many questions, comments, and suggestions that greatly improved the paper. Allan Frei provided valuable recommendations concerning our analyses. The authors are responsible for any mistakes, miscalculations, and misinterpretations.

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Correspondence to Peter J. Marcotullio.

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Marcotullio, P.J., Sarzynski, A., Albrecht, J. et al. A Top-Down Regional Assessment of Urban Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Europe. AMBIO 43, 957–968 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-013-0467-6

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Keywords

  • Europe
  • Urban
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Regional assessment
  • EDGAR