Over ninety Chinese government officials, private sector and civil society representatives gathered in Beijing on 23-24 May to discuss how to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions from China’s freight sector. Both energy efficiency and reduction of carbon emissions and air pollution from transport are priorities in China’s 12th Five Year Plan.
“Energy efficiency is a key factor in making the freight sector in China more competitive,” stated Mr. Xu Yahua, Deputy Director-General, Road Transportation Department, Ministry of Transport, during his opening address. With more than 24 billion tons of freight transported in China in 2010, twice as much as in the United States, and at an annual growth rate of 14% in freight turnover, freight logistics will contribute significantly to the future economic growth in China.
“Although only 4% of vehicles in China are trucks, they are responsible for 57% of particulate emissions from transport” explained Sophie Punte, Executive Director of the Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities. “Plus the number of trucks in China is increasing almost 10% per year. Improving fuel efficiency from trucks is thus a unique win-win opportunity for both economy and environment”.
The 1st Green Freight Seminar was organized by the Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities with support from the Road Transportation Department of the Ministry of Transport, the Vehicle Emission Control Center of the Ministry of Environment Protection, Energy Foundation, US Environment Protection Agency, World Bank and Cascade Sierra Solutions from the US. Presentations and panel discussions centered around five components of a potential Green Freight China Program: clean technologies, freight logistics, financing mechanisms, knowledge & capacity and collaborative partnerships. There was strong support for this Seminar as an annual dialogue on green freight in China and several organizations committed to collaborate on policy research and pilot studies.
Several companies shared their experiences in introducing clean technologies and logistics solutions, such as C.H. Robinsons, Schneider Logistics, Xin Bang Logistics and GITI Tires. The trucking sector is highly fragmented with almost 90% of trucks owned by individual drivers and only 0.1% are companies with more than one hundred trucks. “Those who can organize the labor capacity to move freight in China will be the winners” commented one speaker. The importance of driver training was also highlighted by Technical Director Joel Smith from Cascade Sierra Solutions. “In the US, the difference in fuel efficiency between the best and worst driver can be as high as 25% and I would imagine that in China eco-driving could have a similar impact.”
Financing mechanisms are essential for widespread adoption of technologies, especially as truck drivers are unlikely to receive regular loans from commercial banks. Sharon Banks, Cascade Sierra Solutions Executive Director, described successful lending schemes for truck drivers in the US, while the Research Institute of Fiscal Science (a think tank to the Ministry of Finance), China Mingsheng Bank and World Bank gave suggestions on innovative financing for truck companies in China. “More demonstration projects and funding are needed to increase the confidence of truck drivers and companies as well as financiers in investing in clean technologies and trucks,” explained Ke Fang, Senior Transport Specialist of the World Bank.
Much can be learned from the US SmartWay Transport Partnership, a successful government-industry collaboration aimed at greening commercial road and rail freight transport in the US, and a similar initiative is set up by DHL and other shippers (manufacturers) and logistics providers in Europe. Mr. Buddy Polovick from US Environmental Protection Agency commented that, “there is significant potential for collaboration between the US and China on green freight, as much of what we tried under the SmartWay program could also work in China, such as a technology verification system.” Mr. Xie Jiaju, Director of Freight & Logistics from the Ministry of Transport in his concluding remarks expressed a strong interest to work with and learn from the US and Europe as well as the private sector.
For the full report of the 1st Green Freight China Seminar and more information, visit the Green Freight website at http://www.greenfreightandlogistics.org/.
For green freight program details, please contact Yan Peng, CAI-Asia China Representative at email: firstname.lastname@example.org