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International Workshop on Urbanization, Development Pathways, and Carbon Implications

March 28 to 30, 2007 in Tsukuba, Japan

Organized by
Global Carbon Project (GCP)

In Collaboration with
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) Austria
National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES) Japan


How urbanization unfolds in the next few decades is potentially critical to the efforts at stabilizing carbon dioxide emissions. It is therefore very important to understand urbanization and carbon emission linkages. Global Carbon Project (GCP)’s recently launched policy-relevant scientific initiative entitled “Urban and Regional Carbon Management (URCM)” aims to provide important insights towards understanding the global urbanization trends and its implications for the carbon emissions, and understanding the historical and future scenarios of urban and regional development pathways and their implications for carbon emissions. Such scientific insights provide better understanding on drivers, patterns and potential policy leverages. This, in turn, could facilitate urban and regional decision-making at multiple levels to develop carbon friendly longer-term physical and non-physical infrastructures as well as enhance carbon sinks while preserving ecosystem services.

Emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) have well-recognized long-term climate change implications. Whereas our scientific understanding, statistical reporting, and modeling of historical, current, as well as future GHG emissions are well developed at the global, national, or ecosystem levels, our understanding of GHG emissions at the level of functional socio-economic systems, such as cities, urban agglomerations, and their surrounding and interconnected regions is still in its infancy. And yet, estimates indicate that urban areas consume about 85% of global commercial energy and are therefore likely to be responsible for a comparable share in fossil fuel-related CO2 emissions that dominate current and projected future GHG emissions (Nakicenovic et al., 2000).

Currently, about half of the world’s population lives in urban areas and urbanization rates, particularly in developing countries are expanding rapidly. In the year 2000 about three quarters of the population in more developed countries or less than one billion people lived in urban areas. Urbanization rates in less developed countries were only around 40%, but still corresponding to an urban population of some 2 billion people in 2000, projected to increase to 3 billion by 2015 (UN, 2005). The rapid urbanization of the developing world holds important implications on carbon emissions that will be strongly influenced by the unfolding dynamics of urban systems across regional, national, and global scales as well as by the urban-rural development dynamics in a regional context, by the energy intensiveness of urban and rural activities, as well as by the encroachment of expanding cities to the traditional ecosystem boundaries and sinks. A thorough understanding of these development dynamics is both a scientific as well as policy pre-requisite in order to chart sustainable urban developments along with its cross-linkages to the regions in face of climate change.

Our current knowledge of the urbanization and its drivers in relation to the global carbon cycle and its management remains poor at different spatial (global, regional and urban) and temporal scales (past, present and future). Similarly, the cross-scale linkages of urban areas over regions in terms of energy, materials and other goods and services with other areas are – while immense, nonetheless poorly understood. At the same time, management of carbon at urban and regional scales brings a new set of cross-scale governance issues since the sources and impacts often falls into different political boundaries, exhibit temporal delays between emissions and impacts and add to the already existing complexity of urban governability (or as some would claim un-governability) which are highly diverse around the world. These scale-issues add to the already daunting scientific challenges in relation to developing integrated analytical frameworks of (inter-connected) urban systems and in relation to the modeling of macro evolutionary patterns (such as rank size distributions) arising from micro- and meso-scale social, economic, and political processes. Understanding the nature of these linkages and overcoming methodological and information limitations that persist in the area of urbanization studies and modeling that has traditionally been highly fragmented along disciplinary boundaries is essential. Therefore, a series of workshops are being proposed here. The proposed workshop series aims at both providing an initial platform to discuss these issues as well as to initiate a process in which a much needed scientific dialogue and information exchange can continue.


Agenda (pdf, 0.06MB)

Opening Session

Shuzo Nishioka: Welcome Remarks (pdf, 0.03MB)

Shobhakar Dhakal: Global Carbon Project Updates: Urban Carbon Research Agenda (pdf, 1.84MB)

Session 1

Arnulf Gruebler: Urbanization: What can the experience of the last 1000 years tell us for modeling the next 100? (pdf, 0.41MB)

Shobhakar Dhakal and David Satterthwaite: The Scale of Urban Change Worldwide: 1950-2005 (pdf, 0.19MB)

Mike Raupach: Urbanization and Global Carbon Cycle: Links, Drivers, and Implications (pdf, 1.97MB)

Session 2

Thomas Buettner: UN Population Division Urban Database (pdf, 1.56MB)

Marc Levy: Delineating Urban Extents and Linking them to Population Characteristics (pdf, 9.72MB)

Yuzuru Tachi: State of the World's Cities (pdf, 1.09MB)

Session 3

Paul Lucas: Downscaling Drivers of Global Environmental Change within the IMAGE 2.4 Framework (pdf, 6.70MB)

Mikiko Kainuma: Asia Pacific Integrated Model (AIM): Urbanization in the context of global integrated assessment models (pdf, 2.80MB)

Atsushi Kurosawa: Urbanization and Landuse Modeling in GRAPE Model (pdf, 0.36MB)

Arnulf Gruebler: IIASA Integration Assessment via Downscaling of Population, GDP, and Energy Use (pdf, 1.17MB)

Hugh Pitcher: Scenario Consistent Demographics: To Boldly Go or Fools Rush In? (pdf, 0.26MB)

Yoshiki Yamagata: Spatially Explicit Emission and Land-Use Change Scenarios through Integrated System Analysis (SEE-LUCS project) (pdf, 5.64MB)

Session 4

Keisuke Hanaki: Integrated Analysis of Low Carbon Scenarios of Japanese Urban and Rural Areas (pdf, 1.63MB)

Niels Schulz and James Keirstead: Urban Energy Transitions (pdf, 2.69MB)

Shinji Kaneko: Cross-scale Linkages Exhibited by Urban Energy Use and Carbon Emissions in East Asia (pdf, 0.72MB)

Gui-Ying Cao: Urbanization Trends and Its Challenges for Sustainability in China (pdf, 0.29MB)

K.S. Rajan: Simulations of Land Use Changes: AGENT-LUC Model (pdf, 6.65MB)

Florian Kraxner and Yoshiki Yamagata: Linking Biomass for Bioenergy with Sustainable Forest Management (pdf, 0.35MB)

Session 5 - Discussion and Summary

Shobhakar Dhakal: Topics for Final Discussion (pdf, 0.02MB)

Arnulf Gruebler: Bioenergy in IIASA Long-term Scenarios (pdf, 0.39MB)

Detlef van Vuuren (presented by Paul Lucas): Bio-energy in the context of the IMAGE 2.4 model (pdf, 5.01MB)

Arnulf Gruebler: Cities: Diversity and Commonalities for 6000 Years -- Reflective Summary on the Tsukuba Workshop, the Beginning of a New Era of Urban Systems Analysis (pdf, 0.75MB)


This workshop was largely targeted at global scale analyses of the urbanization phenomenon involving both the integrated assessment community, which has been carrying out global scale modeling and analyses of urbanization and its implications, and the urban energy and urban dynamics analyses community. The speakers in the workshop came from key institutions such as the Global Carbon Project (GCP), the International Institute for Applied Systems Analyses, National Institute for Environmental Studies (IIASA), the United National Population Division, Columbia University, Pacific Northwest Research Laboratory, Netherlands Environmental Assessment, United Nations HABITAT, the University of Tokyo, Hiroshima University, Imperial College London, the International Institute for Information Technology, and the Institute for Applied Energy.

This workshop helped to clarify the status quo of urbanization phenomena and their drivers in relation to carbon management and assessed the availability of information and data in this area. It also discussed the methodological challenges imposed due to cross-scale linkages, difficulties in developing integrated analytical frameworks, and in modeling of systemic macro evolutionary patterns that characterize urbanization phenomena. The workshop assessed how urbanization is treated in integrated assessment models and discussed the insights that can be gained from different approaches. Some of the urban scale analyses related to energy and urban dynamics were discussed in the workshop with examples of case studies using various tools such as input-out analyses, systems analyses of urban systems and agent-based models and demographic modelling perspectives. The workshop was successful in developing a preliminary network of scholars interested in the analysis and modeling of urban and regional development pathways and scenarios and their carbon consequences.


Shobhakar DHAKAL

Global Carbon Project - Tsukuba International Office
c/o National Institute for Environmental Studies
16-2 Onogawa, Tsukuba, Japan 305 8506
Tel: +81 29 850 2672, Fax: +81 29 850 2960
E-mail: shobhakar.dhakal[AT]


International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Tel: +43 2236 807 470, Fax: +43 2236 71313
E-mail: gruebler[AT]

URCM Activities (2006, 2007)