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Towards cleaner fuels and vehicles in China

Posted on: Wednesday, December 11, 2019 - 13:40

The number of vehicles in China has grown significantly over the past 35 years. As a result, air pollution problems have reached crisis levels, with curbing the negative impacts of vehicle emissions now urgent. 

The figures reveal that traditional fossil fuel-powered modes of land transport account for almost 85% of China’s transport-related emissions, and make up 95% of all of its domestically manufactured motor vehicles.

The cornerstones of China’s air quality programme are the modified Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law, and China’s Environmental Protection Law. In 2013, China's State Council approved 35 measures to combat air pollution, primarily focusing on three regions with large urban populations. 

These were the Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province; the Yangtze River delta region that includes Shanghai; and the Pearl River delta region in Guangdong province, which includes major cities like Shenzhen. 

Beijing and Shenzhen serve as cross-fertilisation partners for CIVITAS DESTINATIONS, with some of their measures were the subject of site visits during a project study trip last year.   

Broadly, measureshave aimed to get older vehicles off the roads, to limit the total number of cars, upgrade fuel quality, enhance traffic management and promote so-called New Energy Vehicles (NEVs).

To cap new vehicle growth, each year Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen use license plate auctions or lotteries; these require NEVs to account for a steadily increasing share of the new vehicle quota until they reach 100% of all new vehicles. The three cities now account for 34% of China’s passenger NEV stock.

These cities have also banned light-duty logistic vehicles from entering downtown areas in the daytime. In Shenzhen’s case, this ban does not include electric vehicles, which has helped the city’s freight operators rapidly electrify their fleets.

Public subsidies and a mature industrial electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem have helped China establish the world’s largest EV market. For example, Shenzhen reached 100% electric bus and taxi fleets, which has been attributed to national and local subsidies that covered the purchase and operation phases.

During its study trip, CIVITAS DESTINATIONS visited the Shenzhen Bus Company who runs the fleet, as well as BYD, a leading e-vehicle producer in China. In Beijing, they visited the Foton Motor E-Buses unit.

Elsewhere in China, in March 2019, Hainan province became the first in the country to set a date by which all sales of internal combustion engine vehicles will be ended. Hainan’s Clean Energy Vehicle Development Plan sets out a timeline whereby its fleets will be fossil fuel free and fully transitioned to NEVs by 2030.

To meet this target, Hainan has a comprehensive charging infrastructure plan, and will invest $290 million USD between 2019 and 2030 towards implementation.

Read about the CIVITAS DESTINATIONS trip to China here

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