China said to be ready to phase out fossil fuels in favor of a total shift toward electric vehicles. If so, the Chinese model will be one of the most resource-efficient systems of transport the modern world has seen, turning the PRC into a true green economy
China’s commitment to sustainability and to shifting into a greener economy is nothing new. What is new, especially for other developed countries, is its eagerness to take action so fast. The People’s Republic has a mission to be globally recognized as a green economy soon. It has a project, and it is going straight to the point.
Just last week, China pledged to speed up the process to replace fossil fuel vehicles with battery-powered transportation. While the PRC replaces gas-powered taxis, buses, and trucks with new energy models, the national ban on fossil fuel cars is almost inevitable.
The Dragon’s central government released the outline to become a zero vehicle-emissions country in 2017 and since then, it is proceeding towards the national transition to an electric fleet of vehicles. The same year, the vice-minister of Industry and Information Technology, Xin Guobin, announced that the government was working on a plan to end the production and sale of fossil fuel cars nationwide by 2030, thus hinting to a complete ban for the first time.
© Unsplash. Shenzhen is one of China’s most sustainable cities and the world’s first city to replace all buses and taxis with electric vehicles.
Last July, Wan Gang – vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and former science minister – revealed China will not adopt a one-size-fits-all approach in its EV push by forbidding traditional internal combustion engine vehicles completely. But it will continue to promote the development and adoption of an all-electric public transport network in particular regions while also banning gasoline vehicles in certain areas in some cities. The plan will thus take into account the vast territory and unbalanced economic development in the country.
At the same time, Xin Guobin released a modified version of its new energy vehicle (NEV) policy in July, revealing that three kinds of NEVs are allowed in order to tackle environmental problems and those are hybrid, all-electric, and fuel-cell vehicles.
For what concerns the quality of the environment in major hubs, in 2018, China’s State Council issued a three-year action plan to face pollution. The plan stated that all public buses in major capital cities and economic clusters would be replaced with electric vehicles (EV) by 2020 with an overall carbon emission reduced by at least 15% compared to the emissions in 2015. Some of the key regions involved are the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area, the Shandong province, and the Yangtze River Delta region.
If at the end of the 1950s Mao Zedong gave birth to the Great Leap, in recent years Xi Jinping’s China has been fielding the “Green Long March.”
Since July 2018, the Asian country has built 662,000 charging points for NEVs nationwide. Among these, 275,000 public stacks were provided by government agencies and the other 387,000 by private companies. And the construction of charging infrastructures will accelerate further in the next two years, as confirmed by authoritative sources.
Since the launch of the switch to electric transport, private companies have, in fact, become the driving force in the construction of both vehicles and infrastructures in the sector. Therefore, a brand-new trend has risen, that of “green entrepreneurship”. In major cities, the country’s tech giants such as Alibaba and Tencent, as well as new startups like the Shenzhen car company BYD – Build Your Dreams – and the ride-sharing enterprise Didi Chuxing, all joined China’s “Green Long March” with enthusiasm, providing innovative solutions to fight climate disruption and to ease the shift towards the electric.
Among all the Chinese cities, Hangzhou, Zhuhai, Xiamen, but above all Shenzhen, represent some of the country’s most sustainable cities, showing how China is literally changing its global reputation starting from changing its urban development. In particular, the metropolis of Shenzhen recently became the symbol of the Chinese transition towards electric, employing 99% of the world’s electric buses. It is the first city in the world where old buses and taxis have been fully replaced with electric vehicles indeed.
© Unsplash. Shenzhen. In 2018, more electric cars were sold in China than in the rest of the world combined.
The electric car is drastically changing the power relationships within the global automotive industry. If for decades, European, Japanese, and US automakers have detained the market shares and technological primates, the advent of electric mobility has propelled China into the automotive Olympus.
Indeed, as Euler Hermes – a credit insurance company of the Allianz group – points out, 95% of the expected growth of the world car market in the next five years will come from emerging markets, in particular, China and India – 47% and 13% of the market respectively. According to Cleantechnica’s report “InsideEvs and Ev-Sales”, making an average of global EV sales, China is in the lead with 1.016.002 units, about half of 2 million electric cars sold in the world in 2018. Europe and the United States come next with about 300 thousand units each.
To play an important role in the diffusion of electric cars both in China and in the rest of the world are, in fact, the Chinese models. Indeed, after the Tesla Model 3, the Chinese Baic EC ranks second in global EV sales. Moreover, among the ten most active electric car manufacturers worldwide, five come from China.
The Middle Kingdom is not only changing its climate situation at home by encouraging the production, sale, and purchase of electric vehicles but with its production of EVs, it is actually affecting the world’s market.
However, we now know that China is eager to lead the global fight on climate change, especially because it is still suffering from the consequences of its too fast development. Beijing is accelerating the move towards all-electric transportation across the country in a bid to control pollution from vehicles, while also aiming to become a world leader in technology innovation with an upscale EV industry.
The People’s Republic is implementing a real sustainable technological boom more than other international superpowers. And this trend started way before the UN Climate Change Conference held in Paris in 2015. Already in 2007, the former President Hu Jintao promoted the Ecological Civilization for the first time. It was the idea of building a developed ecological society, which became the country’s main goal.
Since then, China’s new concept of Ecological Civilization aimed to achieve the country’s economic and environmental interests by achieving harmony between people and nature. Xi Jinping himself often addresses this issue in his speeches promoting a “green, low-carbon and circular development” while punishing the activities that damage the environment.
© Wikimedia Commons. Windfarm in Shanxi. In 2017, China became the leader for renewable energy investments, accounting for almost 50% of the global total.
The People’s Republic has identified the green economy and sustainable development as the only possible future for the country to become the world’s leader it aims to be. The Dragon already invested over $126.6 billion in renewable energy as part of its Belt and Road Initiative positioning itself as a leader in the climate space. However, the country’s total investments to be directed towards the sectors of environmental protection, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainable transport are estimated at $600 billion each year.
Today, studies reveal that 80% of all prefectural-level cities have at least one eco-city project in the works. Moreover, due to China’s policies, strategies, and financial incentives addressed to these programs, the interest in promoting and carrying out green projects is growing.
China now has more than 100 electric-car makers, along with hundreds of additional companies that supply components for electric cars. Moreover, here, there may soon be a renewed interest in a new type of renewable vehicle, the hydrogen one. Therefore, a ban on fossil fuel cars would not only be desirable in China but it is now also possible. When the PRC will definitely ban fossil fuels, it will set a new model of green development for the world to follow. But this is something Beijing is doing often, lately.
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