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Chen, J., Zhao, F., Zeng, N., & Oda, T. (2020). Comparing a global high-resolution downscaled fossil fuel CO2 emission dataset to local inventory-based estimates over 14 global cities. Carbon Balance Manag, 15(1), 9.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Compilation of emission inventories (EIs) for cities is a whole new challenge to assess the subnational climate mitigation effort under the Paris Climate Agreement. Some cities have started compiling EIs, often following a global community protocol. However, EIs are often difficult to systematically examine because of the ways they were compiled (data collection and emission calculation) and reported (sector definition and direct vs consumption). In addition, such EI estimates are not readily applicable to objective evaluation using modeling and observations due to the lack of spatial emission extents. City emission estimates used in the science community are often based on downscaled gridded EIs, while the accuracy of the downscaled emissions at city level is not fully assessed. RESULTS: This study attempts to assess the utility of the downscaled emissions at city level. We collected EIs from 14 major global cities and compare them to the estimates from a global high-resolution fossil fuel CO2 emission data product (ODIAC) commonly used in the science research community. We made necessary adjustments to the estimates to make our comparison as reasonable as possible. We found that the two methods produce very close area-wide emission estimates for Shanghai and Delhi (< 10% difference), and reach good consistency in half of the cities examined (< 30% difference). The ODIAC dataset exhibits a much higher emission compared to inventory estimates in Cape Town (+ 148%), Sao Paulo (+ 43%) and Beijing (+ 40%), possibly related to poor correlation between nightlight intensity with human activity, such as the high-emission and low-lighting industrial parks in developing countries. On the other hand, ODIAC shows lower estimates in Manhattan (- 62%), New York City (- 45%), Washington D.C. (- 42%) and Toronto (- 33%), all located in North America, which may be attributable to an underestimation of residential emissions from heating in ODIAC's nightlight-based approach, and an overestimation of emission from ground transportation in registered vehicles statistics of inventory estimates. CONCLUSIONS: The relatively good agreement suggests that the ODIAC data product could potentially be used as a first source for prior estimate of city-level CO2 emission, which is valuable for atmosphere CO2 inversion modeling and comparing with satellite CO2 observations. Our compilation of in-boundary emission estimates for 14 cities contributes towards establishing an accurate inventory in-boundary global city carbon emission dataset, necessary for accountable local climate mitigation policies in the future.