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Sustainability 2017, 9(10), 1801; doi:10.3390/su9101801

Consequential Implications of Municipal Energy System on City Carbon Footprints

1
Department, School of Engineering, Aalto University, P.O. Box 15800, 00076 AALTO, Finland
2
Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Iceland, Hjardarhaga 2-6, 107 Reykjavík, Iceland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 25 August 2017 / Revised: 28 September 2017 / Accepted: 29 September 2017 / Published: 5 October 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transition towards Low-Impact and Regenerative Human Settlements)
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Abstract

Climate change mitigation is an important goal for cities globally. Energy production contributes more than half of the global greenhouse gas emissions, and thus the mitigation potential of local municipal energy systems is important for cities to recognize. The purpose of the study is to analyze the role of local municipal energy systems in the consumption-based carbon footprint of a city resident. The research supplements the previous carbon footprint assessments of city residents with an energy system implication analysis. The study includes 20 of the largest cities in Finland. The main findings of the study are as follows: first, the municipal combined heat and power energy system contributes surprisingly little (on average 18%) to the direct carbon footprint of city residents, supporting some previous findings about a high degree of outsourcing of emissions in cities in developed countries. Second, when indirect emissions (i.e., the implication of a municipal energy system on the national energy system) are allocated to city residents, the significance of the local energy system increases substantially to 32%. Finally, without the benefits of local combined heat and power technology based electricity consumption, the carbon footprints would have increased by an additional 13% to 47% due to the emissions from compensatory electricity production. The results also show that the direct application of consumption-based carbon assessment would imply a relatively low significance for municipal energy solutions. However, with a broader understanding of energy system dynamics, the significance of municipal energy increases substantially. The results emphasize the importance of the consequential energy system implications, which is typically left out of the evaluations of consumption-based carbon footprints. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change mitigation; carbon footprint assessment; life cycle assessment; energy systems climate change mitigation; carbon footprint assessment; life cycle assessment; energy systems
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Laine, J.; Ottelin, J.; Heinonen, J.; Junnila, S. Consequential Implications of Municipal Energy System on City Carbon Footprints. Sustainability 2017, 9, 1801.

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