04 Apr 2023
 | 04 Apr 2023

Can we use atmospheric CO2 measurements to verify emission trends reported by cities? Lessons from a six-year atmospheric inversion over Paris

Jinghui Lian, Thomas Lauvaux, Hervé Utard, François-Marie Bréon, Grégoire Broquet, Michel Ramonet, Olivier Laurent, Ivonne Albarus, Mali Chariot, Simone Kotthaus, Martial Haeffelin, Olivier Sanchez, Olivier Perrussel, Hugo Anne Denier van der Gon, Stijn Nicolaas Camiel Dellaert, and Philippe Ciais

Abstract. Existing CO2 emissions reported by city inventories usually lag real-time by a year or more and are prone to large uncertainties. This study responds to the growing need for timely and precise estimation of urban CO2 emissions to support the present and future mitigation measures and policies. We focus on the Paris metropolitan area, the largest urban region in the European Union and the city with the densest atmospheric CO2 observation network in Europe. We performed long-term atmospheric inversions to quantify the citywide CO2 emissions, both fossil fuel and biogenic sources and sinks, over six years (2016–2021) using a Bayesian inverse modeling system. Our inversion framework benefits from a novel near-real-time hourly fossil fuel CO2 emission inventory ( at 1 km spatial resolution. In addition to the mid-afternoon observations, we attempt to assimilate morning CO2 concentrations based on the ability of the WRF-Chem transport model to simulate atmospheric boundary layer dynamics constrained by observed layer heights. Our results show a long-term decreasing trend by around 2 % per year in annual CO2 emissions over the Paris region. The impact of COVID-19 pandemic led to a 13 %±1 % reduction in annual fossil fuel CO2 emissions in 2020 with respect to 2019. Then, annual emissions increased by 5.2 % from 32.6±2.2 MtCO2 in 2020 to 34.3±2.3 MtCO2 in 2021. Based on a combination of up-to-date inventories, high-resolution atmospheric modeling, and high-precision observations, our current capacity could deliver near real-time CO2 emission estimates at city scale in less than a month, and the results agree within 10 % with independent estimates from multiple city-scale inventories.

Jinghui Lian et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-401', Anonymous Referee #1, 09 May 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-401', Anonymous Referee #2, 29 May 2023

Jinghui Lian et al.


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Short summary
This study quantifies urban CO2 emissions via an atmospheric inversion for the Paris metropolitan area over a six-year period from 2016 to 2021. Results show a long-term decreasing trend by about 2 % per year in the annual CO2 emissions over Paris. We conclude that our current capacity could deliver near-real-time CO2 emission estimates at city scale in under a month, and the results agree within 10 % with independent estimates from multiple city-scale inventories.