China's transport innovation sets an example in hitting sustainable goals

Updated: October 19, 2021 Source:
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The Second United Nations Global Sustainable Transport Conference closes in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 16, 2021. (Xinhua/Li He)

Featuring digital, smart and green development, China's innovation drive in the transport sector has set an example for the world in achieving sustainable goals.

Giving full play to innovation and attaching great importance to advancing new technologies is the key experience China has in developing sustainable transport, according to experts and industry leaders who gathered at a science, technology and innovation for sustainable transport forum at the Second United Nations (UN) Global Sustainable Transport Conference, which concluded in Beijing on the weekend.

China is a leader in promoting the applications of green innovations worldwide, said Peter Newman, a sustainability professor at Curtin University in Australia.

One such innovation China is currently developing is trackless trams, which are like a light rail but are a tenth of the cost and smarter, he noted.

"These kinds of innovations are now mainstreaming and enabling us to create different ways of solving the transport problems in the world, but doing it in a just and sustainable way," Newman said.

China has been promoting a number of pioneering intelligent public transport systems in cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, with investment in technology upgrades and infrastructure construction expanded and fuel consumption reduced.

Another example is power-assisted cycles (PACs), which help solve other electric two-wheelers' road safety and charging-related problems. China provides a majority of these products for the markets in European countries and North American countries, said Yang Xinmiao, a professor at Tsinghua University.

Expecting future growth in the Chinese market, Yang predicted that PAC products' annual output and sales could skyrocket globally to approximately 200 million units, up from 10 million units now.

Data shows that the transportation sector, the main source of air pollution and carbon emissions in the world, accounts for 64 percent of total oil consumption and 27 percent of the total energy use.

Thanks to the fast development of new energy vehicles (NEVs) in China over the past years, the country now boasts more than half of the global total NEVs. China will strongly support the development of green transportation equipment and technological innovation of new generation power batteries and fuel cells, according to Guo Shougang, an official with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

China also has a lot to share with the world in the development of smart ports and smart cities, according to Sun Ziyu, vice president of China Communications Construction Company, a state-owned infrastructure project construction giant.

"The company is starting to lead the standardization process featuring green and smart development in the design and construction of ports, roads and bridges," Sun said.

By the end of 2020, China had built 22 national labs, 28 national engineering and technological research centers and 254 ministerial-level technological innovation bases in the transport sector, official data shows.

China has made historic achievements and developments in the transport sector with technological innovation level steadily enhancing and notable green transition outcomes over past decades, said a white paper on the country's sustainable transport development.

Looking to the future, the country will work to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development goals while strengthening international cooperation in the transport sector to promote sustainable transport development for all countries, the white paper added.

Editor: Tian Shenyoujia