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China takes green tires initiative to address climate change

China Daily, November 21, 2014 Adjust font size:

The number of trucks in China has grown rapidly. In 2013 there were 12.5 million trucks, compared to 3 million in 2012.

According to a World Bank Report on green freight in 2013, trucks account for 54% of total transport sector fuel consumption in China.

During the 22nd APEC meeting last week in Beijing, China reached an agreement with the US that calls for China to cap its carbon emissions by around 2030. China will also aim to get 20 percent of its energy from zero-carbon emission sources by then.

"The freight sector is growing but logistics costs and environmental impacts, too," said Wang Boyong, director of Freight Strategies with Smart Freight Center, an NGO based in Beijing.

Statistics from 2013 survey on Chinese freight by the center show that in China, the logistics spending is roughly equivalent to 18 percent of the country's GDP, higher than in other developing countries (India and South Africa spend 13-14 percent of GDP) and double the level seen in the developed world.

China's freight industry has quite low efficiency, he said.

Trucks' fuel use per ton-km are 10 to 25 percent higher than in the US and Europe and up to 40 percent of truck return-trips are empty.

"These inefficiencies lead to rising costs for companies," said Wang.

The center's report indicates that road freight is growing rapidly with more than 3 million trucks sold in 2012, 350,000 km of new roads per year, and a 10-fold growth in ton-km between 2002 and 2013. Diesel trucks are a significant contributor to transport emissions in China--CO2 (60%), NOx (60%) and PM2.5 (90%), contributing to climate change and air pollution.

To solve the problem requires efforts across the freight sector, said Wang.

In 2012, China started a national program called Green Freight Initiative, to improve truck efficiency, which is managed by the China Road Transport Association (CRTA) with support from various research institutes, development agencies and NGOs.

According to Wang, the green tires initiative, under the umbrella of China Green Freight Initiative, will identify proven technologies with the potential to have a significant impact on fuel consumption and emissions.

Low rolling resistance tires and tire maintenance could reduce over 20 million tons of CO2 from trucks in China annually, he said. "Combined with telematics/ICT and improved driver behavior, fuel and emission reductions will be even higher."

Such a tire package is widely applicable to more than 12.5 million freight trucks and within the decision-making ability of truck owners/operators whereas measures relating to freight movement and the transport system are more heavily influenced by others.

"If the green tires are used on the trucks, CO2 emission would go down 5 to 8 percent a year," he said.

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