Modelling tools are frequently used to study China’s carbon policies while central and local governments initiate and implement carbon targets. Reviews of these low-carbon-planning tools and their usefulness, however, are not sufficient. In this regard, we review eight often used tools in China and suggest their applications and limitations. Tools are classified into four categories: computable general equilibrium, cost- optimization, benchmarking, and accounting tools. For China, application cases are recognized in addressing three research questions, i.e., emission scenario building, policy optimization, and carbon-policy impact analysis. From these studies, it is found that while tools usually require significant assumptions, the disclosure of them are in shortage and lack standardization and comparability. Tools also exclusively focus on policy- planning phase without attention to policy- implementation and policy-evaluation phases. Since the Chinese government has initiated three rounds of low- carbon-pilot-city programs, therefore, it is recommended that tool developers learn from some empirical evidence to integrate real policy outcomes into tools, e.g., policy effectiveness, expected implementation barriers, and required administrative power. Hence, analysts can complete a more holistic, evidence-based, and local-oriented policy suggestion. Standardization of model disclosure rules and evidence- based assumption-making are suggested to enhance comparability and mutual learning. Finally, modules to track progress in policy implementation and evaluation process can be added into tools for policy iteration and evidence collection.
Keywords Carbon policy, China, Low-carbon planning, Cost-optimization, Scenario analysis