International Best Practices for Congestion Charge and Low Emissions Zone

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published Aug 12, 2014 12:00 AM, last modified Aug 15, 2014 04:06 PM

China is the global largest new vehicle market and is expected to exceed the United States as having the world’s largest vehicle fleet in coming ten years. In addition to the fast growing oil consumption in China because of the increasing vehicle population, local cities are facing the challenges to deal with the deteriorating traffic and urban air quality. One hand, municipal governments and national government are exploring improving the urban function and space planning so that the transportation demand could be reduced, promoting public transportation system so that trips growth made by private vehicles could slow down, and developing electric vehicles so that technically vehicles could meet zero emissions. On the other hand, in order to control the new vehicle sales, plate auction, lottery system, and the policies combing the two are enforced in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou etc.. In a whole, top-down administrative rules are the preferred options. And there is much space for economic policies to regulate vehicle usage and reduce the intensity.

During the winter season in 2012 and 2013 serious air pollution episodes happened widely in China and continued for quite a long time. As a result, both national government and local governments adopted a series of policies to address this challenge. For example, Beijing adopted its ‘2013-2017 Clean Air Action Plan’, in which the tasks, ‘conducting researches on low emissions zone and congestion charge, promoting intelligent vehicle identification and toll collection system, and reducing vehicle usage intensity in the city center’, are included. Following that, ‘Important Tasks Allocation Plan for the Clean Air Action Plan’ required Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport and Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau to lead the development of policies on low emissions zone and congestion charge. Besides, other mega cities are also showing growing interests in congestion charge. In order to support the interests, especially the efforts of Beijing, with the guidance from the Ministry of Transportation (MOT) and the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) and the support from the Energy Foundation China (EFC), China Academy of Transportation Sciences under MOT, Vehicle Emissions Control Center under MEP, and Department of Transportation in Zhejiang Province organized an International Forum on Economic Policies for Traffic Congestion and Tailpipe Emissions Control on December 12 and 13, 2013 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. International experts from London in U.K., Stockholm in Sweden, Milan in Italy, Singapore, and Minnesota and New York in U.S. presented the their own experiences on the research, development, and enforcement of congestion charge and low emissions zone. Feedbacks from the forum were very positive and based on the requests from the participants, EFC invited the six experts for papers to systematically summarize their experiences and lessons in more details and they all accepted the invitations. Consequently, all these papers are combined together and lead to this report, ‘International Best Practices for Congestion Charge and Low Emissions Zone’.

It took about half year to write, translate, proof reading, format, and print this report. EFC appreciates a lot to the support and contributions from Mr. Steve Kearns (Transport for London, U.K.), Mr. Gunnar Soderholm (Environment and Health Administration, City of Stockholm, Sweden), Dr. Jonas Eliasson (KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden), Ms. Silvia Moroni (Mobility, Environment and Land Agency, City of Milan, Italy), Mr. Goh Shou Xian (Land Transport Authority of Singapore), Mr. Kenneth R. Buckeye (Minnesota Department of
Transportation, U.S.), and Mr. Charles Komanoff (the Nurture Nature Foundation, New York, U.S.). We are also appreciated of the help from Dr. Michael Wang (Senior Scientist, Argonne National Lab, DOE, U.S.) during the process of developing this report and organizing the international forum.  

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