Sustainability2015, 7(3), 2454-2472; doi:10.3390/su7032454 (registering DOI) - published 27 February 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: High resource utilization in the residential sector, and the associated environmental impacts, are central issues in the growth of urban regions. Land-use urban planning is a primary instrument for the proper development of cities; an important point is the consideration of the urban form’s influence on resource utilization intensity. Emergy synthesis, an energy-based methodological approach that allows the quantification and integration of both natural and human-generated flows interacting in urban environments, was used to assess sustainability of the residential land use of seven boroughs on the Island of Montreal. Natural resources, food, water, acquired goods and services, electricity and fuels were the main flows considered in the analysis. Results suggest that income, household size and distance to downtown are the variables affecting resource utilization intensity more noticeably and that allocation of green area coverage is an important parameter for controlling land use intensity. With the procedure used for calculating resource use intensity in the seven boroughs, it is possible to generate a tool to support urban planning decision-making for assessing sustainable development scenarios. Future research should consider urban green space potential for accommodating local waste treatment systems, acting as a greenhouse gas emissions sink and promoting human health.
Sustainability2015, 7(3), 2437-2453; doi:10.3390/su7032437 (registering DOI) - published 27 February 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Climate change mitigation remains a contested political and policy issue nationally in Australia. Nevertheless, Australian cities have been actively engaging with low carbon policy for well over a decade and numerous actions and programs have resulted. A question arises as to whether such initiatives can amount to a transition; a systemic change from one dominant fossil-fuel based socio-technical regime, to another, fossil-free based socio-technical regime. In this paper, we review the critical literature on low carbon governance and socio-technical transitions and present a set of criteria by which we propose it is possible to assess the emergence of and/or progress towards low carbon urban transition. We then apply this approach to a case study. The paper presents findings from a review of low carbon initiatives in Australia with a particular focus on Melbourne, Victoria exploring the policy context in which these initiatives and responses have emerged, the typical approaches adopted and the implications for urban change and governance. We examine the roles of, and relationships between, different levels of government, climate change alliances, community/environmental organisations and other actors, and assess progress of the urban low carbon transition. In so doing, we identify significant shortcomings and policy disconnects which we argue are limiting progress towards a low carbon future in Victoria.
Sustainability2015, 7(3), 2415-2436; doi:10.3390/su7032415 (registering DOI) - published 27 February 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In recent years, many cities have adopted action plans to become climate neutral in the coming decades. Hereby, a strong motivational factor has been the goal to realize a win-win situation in the long term: climate neutrality and sustainable functioning are not only beneficial for the environment, but are equally beneficial for society and for the economy if well-integrated trajectories are adopted. Nevertheless, as actors across the fields start to implement these plans, many practical obstacles have arisen. These barriers are typical of a systemic transition: dominant practices are characterized by path dependencies, vast institutional frameworks and vested interests that are hard to break through. At the same time, relevant initiatives typically show some elements of uncertainty and a long term return, factors that make it difficult to attract financial investments. The present article addresses the state of the art for current transition experiments in the region of Flanders, Belgium, focusing on actions related to energy and buildings in cities. A brief overview of the state of affairs in several cities and provinces is presented, and some important opportunities and bottlenecks are identified. The resultant findings are tested against the framework of transition theory and related literature on the subject. Subsequently, a set of possible strategies to overcome the above mentioned barriers is formulated. These strategies focus on effectively mobilizing actors and investments.
Sustainability2015, 7(3), 2397-2414; doi:10.3390/su7032397 (registering DOI) - published 27 February 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Haze pollution has worsened and has received close attention by news agencies in the past two years. This type of environmental pollution might have a great effect on tourism image and the entire tourism industry of a destination. This study aimed to reveal the potential impacts of haze pollution on the tourism industry. Based on a case study in Beijing using questionnaires for potential tourists, awareness of haze pollution, impacts of haze pollution on travel and attitudes toward the impacts were discussed. The results indicated that haze pollution has a considerable potential impact on travel, and there are distinct differences among travel elements and tourism market segments. Due to its impacts, haze pollution could be taken into account in tourists’ decision-making processes, causing a portion of potential tourists to cancel tourism plans. As a result, tourist arrivals to similar destinations could decrease by a small margin, but the most significant impact could be on the temporal distribution of tourist arrivals, namely tourism seasonality, due to tourists’ “avoiding” psychology.
Sustainability2015, 7(3), 2373-2396; doi:10.3390/su7032373 (registering DOI) - published 27 February 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Environmental and social responsibilities have led many manufacturers to used products recovery. Meanwhile, many manufacturers nowadays sell products via indirect retailer channels and direct Internet channels. This paper models a dual-channel closed-loop supply chain to improve the sustainability of products. We apply the two-stage optimization technique and the Nash game to examine the impacts of the retail services and the degree of customer loyalty to the retail channel on the pricing of players in a centralized and a decentralized dual-channel supply chain. Our results show that the retail services have a great impact on the manufacturer and the retailer’s pricing strategies. We also compare the differences of pricing strategies between a centralized and a decentralized dual-channel supply chain and suggest the optimal retail services and pricing decisions for the players in the supply chain.
Sustainability2015, 7(3), 2353-2372; doi:10.3390/su7032353 (registering DOI) - published 27 February 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The Chinese government has introduced numerous policies and development plans to boost its shale gas industry in recent years. However, China’s shale gas exploration and development is still in the initial stage and has been confronted with many challenges. This paper systematically analyzes the current status of China’s shale gas industry from five aspects for the first time—resource situation, exploration and development status, policy and planning situation, technology status and international cooperation—then respectively elaborates on the different obstacles of shale gas development in the short run and the medium and long term. We argue that short-term barriers to the Chinese shale gas industry mainly include objective factors, such as geological and surface conditions, shale gas proven reserves, technology innovation and environmental concerns, while some man-made obstacles (except for water scarcity) may restrict shale gas development in the medium and long term. In order to better tackle the short-term challenges, this paper proposes policy recommendations from five perspectives: strengthening the investigation and evaluation of China’s shale gas resources; perfecting shale gas industry policy; establishing a national shale gas comprehensive experimental zone; enhancing scientific and technological research; and establishing a shale gas regulatory system with an emphasis on environmental protection and supervision.