Carbon Accounting for Regenerative Cities

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The carbon budget for limiting global warming to the targeted 1.5 ° is running out. Cities have a central role in climate change mitigation, as the vast majority of all greenhouse gas emissions occur to satisfy the energy and material needs of cities and their residents. However, cities typically only account for their direct local emissions from transportation, industry, and energy production. This may lead to the so-called low-carbon illusion of cities following from producing little and reporting low emissions, while extensively relying on imported material and energy flows. Consumption-based accounting, or carbon footprinting, enables overcoming this problem by assigning the emissions to the end user regardless of the place of production. However, currently the carbon footprinting methods only capture the harm side, and not the potential positive effects, the restorative or regenerative impacts, caused by green infrastructure, reforestation, and carbon capture and storage, for example. These positive impacts are sometimes called “carbon handprint”. In this chapter, we create a handprint-extended carbon footprinting method to illustrate how restorative and regenerative impacts can be incorporated consistently in the carbon accounting of cities and carbon footprints of consumers. We also link the discussion on regenerative cities with the remaining carbon budgets.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRethinking Sustainability Towards a Regenerative Economy
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-71819-0
Publication statusPublished - 2021
MoE publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book

Publication series

NameFuture City
ISSN (Print)1876-0899
ISSN (Electronic)1876-0880


  • city
  • carbon budget
  • carbon footprint
  • carbon handprint
  • regenerative
  • restorative


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