Promoting the Uptake of Electric Vehicles to Reduce Pollution in Beijing City, China
The poor air quality in Beijing city in 2013 prompted the central and Beijing governments to implement stringent pollution control measures. This included the promotion of green transportation such as electric vehicles. The central government has since implemented a range of policies that has actively publicised EVs, while investing in infrastructural support and incentivising the buyers. The Beijing government has created local policies that have helped meet the central government targets. These measures have led to a rapid uptake of EVs across the city, with co-benefits such as significant reductions in air pollution, fuel consumption and urban heat in Beijing.
The case constitutes a good practice as the measures involved engagement with a variety of both private and governmental stakeholders and are based on a sound scientific analysis. There exists a high level of government support, and concerted action between the central and Beijing governments in terms of a wider variety of complementary legislation. This has encouraged technological innovation and capacity building in the country while ensuring EVs are easily affordable for consumers.
By promoting EVs and reducing pollution, Beijing is encouraging economic and social development in accordance with China’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). Thus, China is not only becoming a global leader in EV manufacturing, but also in green innovation and climate change mitigation.
The measures have led to a rapid increase in the number of EVs in Beijing city. The government of Beijing has led by example, and has mandated the conversion of government transportation to EVs. The total number of registered electric buses, sanitation trucks and taxis has increased from 290 in 2012 to 4229 in 2015 (Ma et al., 2017). This has further encouraged the public to purchase EVs, and as of June 2018, 290,000 people in the city have applied for EV licenses, which is over five times the Beijing government’s EV quota of 54,000. For an overview of the impact of activities, see also Figure 1.
- Significant reduction in pollution: The Beijing government met its target of reducing the PM2.5 level, which was 58 micrograms in 2017, a reduction of over 35% compared to the 2012 levels. It is projected that by further encouraging rapid technological development and EV uptake, Beijing can not only maintain this PM2.5 level, but also avoid 0.42 million tons of CO2 emissions by 2030 (Zhang et al., 2017).
- Significant reduction in energy and fossil fuel consumption: The 2030 projections indicate that a widespread uptake of EVs (65% market share by 2030) can reduce the annual gasoline consumption of Beijing by 760,000 tons. This is about 17 percent of the city’s total gasoline requirement (Zhang et al., 2017).
- Reduced urban heat island effect: In 2012, it was calculated that the average heat emission from an EV was 19.8% of an ICE vehicle. Thus, the total daily reduction in heat emission, if all the ICE vehicles in Beijing had been replaced by EVs, could have been 7.29 X 1014 Joules. This replacement could have decreased heat island intensity by 0.94°C, thereby reducing the usage of air conditioners in buildings. It would have also led to daily energy savings of 14.44 million kWh, and decreased the daily CO2 emissions by 10,686 tons (Li et al., 2015).
At the central government level, the promotion of EVs is a collaboration between the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), Ministry of Finance (MOF), Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). These are further supported by ministerial agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), State Planning Commission (SPC), State Economic and Trade Commission (SETC) and the Electric Vehicle Standardization Committee (EVSC). In addition, the Beijing local government is an active participant in the process, formulating and implementing policies that favor EV uptake in Beijing city.