Analyzing and optimizing the impact of economic restructuring on Shanghai's carbon emissions using STIRPAT and NSGA-II

Shangguang Yang, Dong Cao, Tek Sheng Kevin LO*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


The economic restructuring of cities has a significant impact on their carbon emissions and is an important pathway to low-carbon development. China is the world's largest carbon emitter, but few studies provide an in-depth analysis of how economic restructuring is affecting carbon emissions at its city level. This study develops a Stochastic Impacts by Regression on Population, Affluence and Technology (STIRPAT) model to analyze the impact of economic restructuring on CO2 emissions in Shanghai. The results suggest that Shanghai's emissions have remained stable post-2007, largely due to the city's economic restructuring in favor of the tertiary sector: every 1% increase in the tertiary sector's share of GDP is associated with a 0.76% reduction in CO2 emissions. This study also uses a multi-objective genetic algorithm, specifically the Non-dominated Sorting Genetic Algorithm II (NSGA-II), to optimize economic restructuring of Shanghai with regard to economic and climate objectives. The result suggests that Shanghai should aim to reduce the industrial share of gross output from 49.4% in 2012 to 38.3% in 2020. The main conclusion of the study is that Shanghai and, by extension, other Chinese cities, cannot achieve their climate targets without making meaningful changes to the economy geared towards less carbon-intensive activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-53
Number of pages10
JournalSustainable Cities and Society
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Transportation

User-Defined Keywords

  • Carbon emissions
  • China
  • Economic restructuring
  • Low-carbon cities
  • Shanghai


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