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Special Issue "Energy Efficiency and Urban Climate Adaption"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Urban and Rural Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The 25th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25) was held in Madrid, Spain, from 2 to 13 December 2019. The rules for implementation of the Paris regime will come into force in 2020, and thus there was a great expectation for the Paris regime to be implemented smoothly in a very transparent, predictable way. Unfortunately, this did not happen, with too many conflicts arising from the global economic depression. Even if there are numerous arguments on the feasibility of the Paris regime, the Paris regime shall overcome all the possible challenges and create a new optimal path for all humankind, at least in terms of global consensus on Energy Efficiency and Urban Climate Adaptation. Many countries face urbanization issues, especially regarding the climate adaptation agenda, such as green cities and smart cities with sustainable governance. Clearly, these issues require utmost urgent attention from the public and private sectors in diverse fields of activity, due to the complex procedures involved. There has been diverse research conducted on these fields, but most of these are too superficial with common-sense suggestions and/or conclusions. Now, it is time for researchers to skim the bubbles from the myths and determine the true feasibility of the Paris regime to enhance energy efficiency and urban adaptation. It is of the utmost importance to develop sustainable governance to solve the sustainable development and sustainable management issues in more harmonized ways. This Special Issue shall focus on these challenges under the Paris regime 2020.

This Special Issue will consist of selected papers from the Sustainable Asia Conference 2020, an annual international conference. SAC (http://abf.inha.ac.kr/) is one of the leading international conferences for presenting novel and fundamental advances in sustainable development issues for Asia.

In most developing countries, government-led political regulation of the energy efficiency and urban climate adaptation could be much more effective at least in the short term in the initial stage, but without the strong support of the private sector, it cannot be sustainable. We have already seen many policy failures at this initial stage of ecological civilization. Therefore, this Special Issue wants to seek for a workable mechanism for sustainable governance. Therefore, the Special Issue shall focus on the issues of sustainable development and its governance under the Paris regime 2020.

The subjects of this Special Issue shall be, but are not limited to, the following areas:

  1. Innovative case studies for sustainable eco-friendly implications and suggestions for energy efficiency;
  2. New methodological or conceptual approaches for sustainable governance as it relates to urban climate adaptation;
  3. Regional cooperation for sustainable development or green growth;
  4. Other related issues on sustainable development in the region.

Prof. Yongrok Choi
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • energy efficiency
  • urban climate adaptation
  • sustainable governance
  • Paris regime

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Energy Efficiency and Urban Climate Adaption
Sustainability 2021, 13(14), 7627; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13147627 - 08 Jul 2021
Viewed by 477
Abstract
When the 25th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25) was held in Madrid, Spain from 2 to 13 December, 2019, there was a great expectation for the Paris Agreement to be implemented smoothly in a [...] Read more.
When the 25th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25) was held in Madrid, Spain from 2 to 13 December, 2019, there was a great expectation for the Paris Agreement to be implemented smoothly in a very transparent, predictable way [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Efficiency and Urban Climate Adaption)
Editorial
Peace Engineering Gains Momentum
Sustainability 2020, 12(12), 5203; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12125203 - 25 Jun 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 750
Abstract
To create a sustainable future, technological innovators must become intentional about their designs, rather than design first and worry later. Though this idea appears straightforward, it requires fundamental changes in engineering education and in channels of product commercialization/valorization. This communication describes the Peace [...] Read more.
To create a sustainable future, technological innovators must become intentional about their designs, rather than design first and worry later. Though this idea appears straightforward, it requires fundamental changes in engineering education and in channels of product commercialization/valorization. This communication describes the Peace Engineering movement and its thrust toward design for peace and human welfare. It describes the movement’s history, notably its changes in approach relative to that of the Vietnam war protests and the first Earth Day of 50 years ago; Peace Engineering’s potential for reducing waste and loss of life; and the challenges Peace Engineering now faces. It concludes with preliminary ideas on moving past these challenges. The nascent field of Peace Engineering will lead to new streams of research and new initiatives in engineering education and practice for sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Efficiency and Urban Climate Adaption)

Research

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Article
Sustainable Feasibility of the Environmental-Friendly Policies on Agriculture and Its Related Sectors in India
Sustainability 2021, 13(12), 6680; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13126680 - 11 Jun 2021
Viewed by 708
Abstract
In terms of economic development and feeding the world’s populations, the importance of the agricultural sector is well known. However, agriculture and its related sectors are also known for contributing more than one-quarter of the world’s GHG emissions. To address this issue, we [...] Read more.
In terms of economic development and feeding the world’s populations, the importance of the agricultural sector is well known. However, agriculture and its related sectors are also known for contributing more than one-quarter of the world’s GHG emissions. To address this issue, we evaluate the performance of agriculture and its related firms in India from 2013 to 2019 with its environmental efficiency under the paradigm shift promoted by the National Agroforestry Policy in 2014. To evaluate the feasibility of this paradigm shift in agricultural policy, the non-radial slack-based measure (SBM) is utilized in the first stage, and Tobit regressions are used to assess the determinants of efficiency (or sources of inefficiency) measures at the second stage. The results from non-radial SBM show that Indian agricultural firms (foreign direct investment, private, and public) show huge potential with 32.2% on average to enhance their performance if they move toward the frontier of the production possibility curve. This suggests that Indian policymakers should regulate much stronger regulations for firms, especially for the use of agricultural inputs such as energy (fertilizers), with performance-oriented financial measures for sustainable agriculture. To determine the strategic variables for these firms to enhance their performance, Tobit regressions showed that fertilizers use (−3.350%) appears to have the highest negative impact on environmental efficiency. On the other hand, credit access (2.710%) has the highest positive impact on environmental efficiency, implying that policymakers should provide subsidies to firms in the form of soft loans (or credit access) for the purchase of high-quality fertilizers and to adopt energy-saving equipment/technology to minimize the use of chemical fertilizers in India. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Efficiency and Urban Climate Adaption)
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Article
Sustainable Governance of the Korean Freight Transportation Industry from an Environmental Perspective
Sustainability 2021, 13(11), 6429; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13116429 - 05 Jun 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 780
Abstract
The transportation industry is one of the major sectors for air pollution. In particular, the freight transportation sector possesses the biggest share of air pollution in South Korea. Therefore, it is required to evaluate current environmental performance of this sector and predict regulation [...] Read more.
The transportation industry is one of the major sectors for air pollution. In particular, the freight transportation sector possesses the biggest share of air pollution in South Korea. Therefore, it is required to evaluate current environmental performance of this sector and predict regulation impact on the local economy for a sustainable future. Based on the sustainable governance, each local government should take actions or change the paradigm of the regulatory policies. Thus, this study examines the environmental performance of the freight transportation industry with air pollution of PM2.5 and NOx in 16 Korean local governments, based on the non-radial directional distance function (NDDF). On average, the freight transportation sector shows very low performance with a high potential value of 0.649. Furthermore, no significant uptrend was witnessed during the sample period (2012 to 2017), implying a lack of sustainable governance. Some local governments such as Seoul (0.9301) and Busan (0.9709) show high efficiency, and Gwangju shows a slow but increasing trend, while most of other cities are very low in their environmental performance of freight transportation industries. Even Seoul and Busan may not maintain their sustainable performance, because outperforming high sales revenue in these cities could lead to high efficiency even with high levels of aggravating air pollution. Therefore, it is meaningful to empirically test the sustainable feasibility in terms of regulatory costs, reflecting the opportunity costs to select increased regulation toward a sustainable, higher environment-friendly efficiency. Environmental regulation causes very low, negligible costs in most of the local governments, except Seoul, implying that a more regulatory regime will bring in the sustainable governance of the environmental efficiency (Porter hypothesis) for the freight transportation sector for these local governments. However, Seoul will endure a heavy economic burden if heavier environmental regulations are posed on its freight transport sector. Stepwise and fine tuning of regulations is required for Seoul. In contrast to Seoul, Incheon needs drastic reformation since it shows low efficiency with low regulatory cost. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Efficiency and Urban Climate Adaption)
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Article
Subsidies, Clean Heating Choices, and Policy Costs: Evidence from Rural Households in Northern China
Sustainability 2021, 13(1), 169; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13010169 - 26 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 708
Abstract
Clean heating renovation is important for optimizing the regional energy structure and improving the quality of the atmospheric environment in Northern China. According to survey data of 1298 rural households in the “coal-to-gas” reform in Hengshui of Hebei Province, in this paper, we [...] Read more.
Clean heating renovation is important for optimizing the regional energy structure and improving the quality of the atmospheric environment in Northern China. According to survey data of 1298 rural households in the “coal-to-gas” reform in Hengshui of Hebei Province, in this paper, we construct a clean heating subsidy model which focuses on clean heating choices, the reburning rate, and the subsidy cost. The key parameters affecting farmers’ choice of clean heating, including the lifeline, classification of rural households, and gas price elasticity, are estimated. Furthermore, we simulate changes between the existing and new subsidy policies, including the impact on the welfare of rural residents. We present the following findings: (1) under the current subsidy standard, the level of gas heating lifeline in Hengshui is 700 m3, the proportion of low-gas-consumption households is approximately 47.38%, and the reburning rate ranges from 47.38% to 63.80%; (2) under a new subsidy standard which we designed to ensure that households will not reburn the coal, the optimal subsidy value is 1.23 CNY/m3, the optimal subsidy volume is 970 m3, and the total subsidy demonstrates an increase of 46.21%; and (3) the government’s subsidy standards should focus on low-income households. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Efficiency and Urban Climate Adaption)
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Article
Sustainable Evolution of China’s Regional Energy Efficiency Based on a Weighted SBM Model with Energy Substitutability
Sustainability 2020, 12(23), 10073; https://doi.org/10.3390/su122310073 - 02 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 655
Abstract
The rapid economy expansion in China has substantially increased energy consumption. Under the stringent environmental policy and the requirement of green economy development, the accurate assessment and analysis of energy efficiency is an increasingly significant issue for energy development policy making in China. [...] Read more.
The rapid economy expansion in China has substantially increased energy consumption. Under the stringent environmental policy and the requirement of green economy development, the accurate assessment and analysis of energy efficiency is an increasingly significant issue for energy development policy making in China. This study uses the weighted slacks-based model (weighted SBM) considering the energy substitutability to evaluate the regional energy efficiency (EE) in 29 Chinese provinces, from 1991 to 2015, and explores the sustainable evolution characteristics of EE by comparative and convergence analyses from different perspectives. The empirical results show that EE has significant geographic differences. On the one hand, EE increases from the west to the east of China, and its volatility has a rising trend over the period 1991–2015. Only the EE in the eastern area had a stable rising trend, and the EE differences are difficult to reduce in the short term. On the other hand, the economic zones in the south of China, such as Central Bohai, Pearl River Delta, and Yangtze River Delta, have higher EE. We also find a significant EE improvement occurred during the Eleventh and the Twelfth Five-Year plans. By means of the convergence analysis of energy efficiency across different areas and economic zones over different time intervals, it is shown that EE in the southeast coast provinces have a better catching-up effect and adjustment rate toward the efficient frontier, while the western inland provinces are less effective over the period 1991–2005. Further, we empirically find that the industry policies including industry transfer policy promote EE globally, but the regional differences and fluctuations in EE remain serious. Certain policy implications are discussed with regard to sustainable regional development and an effective industry transfer policy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Efficiency and Urban Climate Adaption)
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Article
Characteristics and Influencing Factors of Green Finance Development in the Yangtze River Delta of China: Analysis Based on the Spatial Durbin Model
Sustainability 2020, 12(22), 9753; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12229753 - 23 Nov 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 690
Abstract
Based on urban economic data in the Yangtze River Delta region of China from 2011 to 2017, this study empirically explores the characteristics of green finance development and its influencing factors through the establishment of a time fixed effects Durbin model. The empirical [...] Read more.
Based on urban economic data in the Yangtze River Delta region of China from 2011 to 2017, this study empirically explores the characteristics of green finance development and its influencing factors through the establishment of a time fixed effects Durbin model. The empirical results are as follows: (1) The development of green finance in the Yangtze River Delta has a clear spatial cluster effect, and there are large regional differences. (2) The regional GDP, regional innovation level, and air quality are the most important influencing factors, and the degree of financial development and the optimization of the industrial structure are not significant. (3) Regional GDP is positively correlated with the development of green finance, and regional innovation level and air quality are negatively correlated with the development of green finance. (4) Regional GDP, regional innovation level, and air quality are associated with the development level of green finance mainly through direct effects. The degree of financial development and the optimization of industrial structure are associated with the development level of green finance mainly through spillover effects. The degree of financial development has a positive spillover effect; in contrast, the optimization of the industrial structure has a negative spillover effect. Finally, according to the conclusions, countermeasures and suggestions for improving the level of green finance development in the Yangtze River Delta are proposed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Efficiency and Urban Climate Adaption)
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Article
Measuring Operational Performance of Major Chinese Airports Based on SBM-DEA
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 8234; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12198234 - 06 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 527
Abstract
This study analyzes the sustainable feasibility of major airports in China in terms of airport operational efficiency (AOE). As AOE should be measured by economic performance as well as qualitative service management such as delay rate abatement, our study uses a multi-input/output slack-based [...] Read more.
This study analyzes the sustainable feasibility of major airports in China in terms of airport operational efficiency (AOE). As AOE should be measured by economic performance as well as qualitative service management such as delay rate abatement, our study uses a multi-input/output slack-based data envelopment analysis model. We find that the 37 major airports in China have very low AOE levels, with an average of 48.2% during the study period of 2016–2019, implying great potential to enhance their efficiency. Even though the AOE trend is increasing upwards, it is still very much behind in terms of global standards. Moreover, this upward trend may come from external factors in the commercially driven eastern region airports and politically supported western region airports, and the AOE gap with airports in the central region is becoming larger. This implies that most airports in China are not yet self-sustaining. There are two ways for these airports to enhance AOE: more investment in infrastructure, such as airport facilities, and management upgrades from peer-learning efforts. We examined the feasibility of these two optimal paths and found that there is no need for decreasing returns to scale, implying that most of the airports can improve their AOE through additional investment, except for the eight airports with constant returns to scale, such as Beijing and Guangzhou. Moreover, each of the individual airports should learn from the top benchmarking airports on the production frontier. This study emphasizes the role of qualitative service performance and concludes that customized, self-sustaining innovation is required for all of the 37 major airports in China. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Efficiency and Urban Climate Adaption)
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Article
On the Unbalanced Atmospheric Environmental Performance of Major Cities in China
Sustainability 2020, 12(13), 5391; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12135391 - 03 Jul 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 910
Abstract
As the largest emitter of CO2, China has also serious air pollution issues. Is it possible to catch these two rabbits under heterogenetic conditions of urbanization? To answer this, this study examines atmospheric environmental performance (SO2, NOx, [...] Read more.
As the largest emitter of CO2, China has also serious air pollution issues. Is it possible to catch these two rabbits under heterogenetic conditions of urbanization? To answer this, this study examines atmospheric environmental performance (SO2, NOx, and PMs) of 30 major cities in China using streaming data from 2011 to 2017. A non-radial SBM-DEA approach is adopted with a meta-frontier model to evaluate regional heterogeneity in atmospheric environmental management. Our results suggest that pollution prevention and regulation policies encouraged synergic development of most cities in the economy and atmospheric environment. On average, atmospheric environmental efficiency of the cities improved from 0.556 to 0.691. However, significantly unbalanced development exists in the regions, requiring customized policies. Eastern cities achieved continuing improvement owing to stringent air pollutant emission policies. Central cities showed a strong improvement but lacked momentum after they achieved certain targets. Western cities lagged behind in the studying period due to both technology gap as well as weak regulation. Furthermore, we identify heterogeneous paths for inefficient cities to enhance their performance using benchmark information. Economically developed eastern cities, such as Beijing, Fuzhou, are facing an over-supply issue. Reshaping their economic structure may be necessary to attain better environmental performance. Central cities face diversified issues. The emphasis of different cities may vary from stringent emission policies to proactive supply-side transition to achieve strong atmospheric management performance. For under-developed cities, preferential policies for investment and tax incentives may be needed to improve their production scale for higher efficiency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Efficiency and Urban Climate Adaption)
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Article
Has China’s Emission Trading System Achieved the Development of a Low-Carbon Economy in High-Emission Industrial Subsectors?
Sustainability 2020, 12(13), 5370; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12135370 - 02 Jul 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1241
Abstract
An emission trading system (ETS) is a powerful emission reduction tool for achieving low-carbon economic development in the world. Focusing on the industrial subsectors, this paper comprehensively analyzes the environmental and economic effects of the pilot ETS in China from the perspectives of [...] Read more.
An emission trading system (ETS) is a powerful emission reduction tool for achieving low-carbon economic development in the world. Focusing on the industrial subsectors, this paper comprehensively analyzes the environmental and economic effects of the pilot ETS in China from the perspectives of economic development, technological optimization, and innovation-driven development by using the propensity score matching–difference in differences (PSM-DID) model based on 2005–2017 provincial panel data. This paper compensates for the limitations of existing studies on the effects of ETS on different subsectors; furthermore, the triple difference model (DDD) model is used to discuss the impacts of differences in environmental responsibility and economic potential among subsectors on policy effects. The empirical results show that: (1) The pilot ETS produces a 14.5% carbon reduction effect on the covered subsectors while reducing GDP by 4.8% without achieving a low-carbon economy. Thus, production decline is the main reason for carbon emission reductions. (2) Economic development factors have significant positive impacts on carbon emissions, while technological optimization and innovation-driven development are key factors for achieving reductions in carbon emissions. (3) The pilot ETS produces a 60.1% carbon emission inhibition effect and 23.2% GDP inhibition effect on the subsectors with greater environmental responsibility. Therefore, the Chinese government should fully simulate the impact of technological innovation and utilize resource endowment differences in the environmental and economic aspects of different sectors to achieve low-carbon economic development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Efficiency and Urban Climate Adaption)
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