WRI China Helps Beijing Accelerate the Development of Low Emission Zone and Congestion Charge Policies
According to the Beijing Municipal Committee of Transport (BMCT), the number of vehicles in Beijing has reached 5.591 million, with 30.99 million daily trips within the sixth ring road at the end of 2014. As a result, air quality in the area has declined sharply. Latest data from the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau (EPB) shows that among local pollutants, emissions from motor vehicles contributed to 31.31 percent of fine particular matter, for example. To create a healthier urban environment for residents, the city issued the “Beijing Clean Air Action Plan 2013-2017,” identifying 84 actions that can help control air pollution within the area.
To assist the city in its goal to improve air quality, our team in China and the Beijing Transport Environment and Energy Center (BTEC) (a research institute affiliated with BMCT) co-organized an international workshop on September 6, 2015. The workshop invited city officials from Beijing and international experts to discuss current challenges, share best practices and find solutions to speed up the process for developing low emission zone and congestion charging policies.
Beijing Is Taking On Private Vehicles
The team in China has been working with BMCT since May 2014 to support the development of these policies, and recently partnered with the Beijing Transport Research Center to help raise awareness. Within the past year, their work has already made a major impact in Beijing. For example, in a meeting with Beijing authorities last May, Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli urged the city to speed up research on congestion charging policies and to prepare for implementation. Furthermore, in a recent session of the Beijing People’s Congress, participants brought up the idea of adopting congestion charging policy in the city, signaling that the policy has moved to the top of Beijing’s agenda. As the BMCT continues to develop an understanding of the challenges and barriers in the enabling conditions for successful implementation, the next step will be to focus on legislation, management, and public communication.
Planning for Implementation by 2017
When testing of technologies—such as Dedicated Short-range Radio Communications (DSRC) and Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)—began last year, policy research entered a new phase. However, there are still barriers standing in way of implementation. As officials discussed in the workshop, implementing these new policies requires a comprehensive package of complementary measures, cross-departmental collaboration, an efficient evaluation and monitoring system, and public support.
To overcome these obstacles, our team in China will continue to assist BMCT in the development of a low emission zone and congestion charging. More specifically, our team has developed an implementation strategy with seven key components for moving forward:
- Introduce international best practices to Chinese decision makers.
- Design policies that consider China’s unique context.
- Promote public participation in the decision making process and increase external communication to boost public support of the project.
- Develop an emissions accounting tool and a performance indicator system to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the LEZ/CC schemes.
- Increase the capacity of government leaders to streamline the decision making process.
- Scale up policies and strategies to help other Chinese cities address similar problems.
- Build a knowledge hub to share our knowledge and project experience world-wide.
As the chief of the technology department of BMCT, Mr. Yu Ge explains, “given the matured technology, a congestion charge is expected to be implemented by 2017,” with the right enabling conditions.
About EMBARQ at WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities
EMBARQ, Sustainable Urban Mobility by WRI, catalyzes and helps implement environmentally, socially, and financially sustainable urban mobility solutions to improve quality of life in cities.