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The Beijing Dialogue – Future Urban Transport & Mobility – Infrastructure, Key Technologies and Implementation Roadmap

In order to curb emission growth and address climate change, on 22 September 2020, during the General Debate of the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly, Chinese president Xi Jinping announced that China would aim to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. In particular the decarbonization of urban transport is crucial to achieve those goals.

Electro-mobility, ride-hailing, shared- and micro-mobility, autonomous driving, and Big Data-based smart city and traffic management applications are offering opportunities to make urban transport more sustainable. However, technology alone is not enough to tackle climate change and to make our cities as a whole more livable. How can a 20 million megacity such as Beijing bring its transport and mobility system on the low carbon track?

To formulate a vision and explore an implementation pathway for developing a sustainable and low carbon urban transport system in Beijing, the Beijing Transport Institute (BTI), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and Agora Verkehrswende jointly conduct the Beijing Dialogue Workshop Series – Future Urban Transport & Mobility.

The Beijing Dialogue comprises a series of 3 workshops with the following themes:

  1. Workshop 1 Vision of Future Urban Transport & Mobility – Green, Intelligent and Shared from November 26-27, 2020 (a short movie about the first workshop of the Beijing Dialogue Workshop Series can be found here)
  2. Workshop 2 – Infrastructure, Key Technologies and Implementation Roadmap on June 4, 2021
  3. Workshop 3 – Presentation Workshop during the World Metropolitan Transport Development Forum in Beijing September 2021

The objective of the Beijing Dialogue workshop series is to actively and deeply explore the vision for Beijing’s future urban transport system through the form of multi-stakeholder dialogue and expert discussion in order to:

  1. Share ideas and opinions on how to make Beijing’s future urban transport system more sustainable and climate-friendly,
  2. Explore how to promote and align the roadmap and development goals of Beijing’s short-, medium- and long-term transport system, the SDGs, the climate targets of the Paris Agreement, and “China’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2060”, which was announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the General Debate of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly,
  3. Provide recommendations and references to policymakers and other relevant stakeholders in form of a White Paper,
  4. Promote exchange and ideas on future urban transport-related pilot projects and public-private cooperation formats on low carbon transport development.

The result of the Beijing Dialogue will be a White Paper with concrete suggestions for the future development of Beijing’s transport and mobility system.

The second workshop of the Beijing Dialogue with the theme “Infrastructure, Key Technologies and Implementation Roadmap” took place on June 4, 2021, in the Beijing Nikko New Century Hotel.

Beijing Dialogue second workshop was held on June 4, 2021, in Beijing; Picture Source: GIZ

In the second workshop about 20 experts from public sectors, the automotive and mobility industry and academia came together to discuss how to implement the vision of “green, intelligent and shared”, as a result of the first Beijing Dialogue workshop. Among the many statements made, the following discussed aspects stood out:

1. CO2 emission reduction must be the basis of policy making

Mitigating CO2 emissions must be a top priority and the guiding principle for the transformation of Beijing’s transport sector. All strategies and measures aiming to realise the vision of “green, intelligent and shared” shall be based on this principle.

2. Urban planning and transport planning should be better integrated

The transformation of transport has to start with the transformation of the city itself – urban planning shall take the lead to achieve the transformation of Beijing’s transport sector based on the vision of “green, intelligent and shared”. Transport needs to be seen as a tool to serve the people’s mobility needs, and, as a cross-sector discipline, needs deep cross-disciplinary collaboration between urban planning, transport, energy, public security departments among others. In particular, the concept of the mixed-use and compact “15 minutes city” focusing on people-centred neighbourhood development shall be adopted to avoid trips and ease traffic problems. This is especially important as the urban development area of Beijing is still growing. 

3. Electric mobility should be further promoted

The electrification of both public transport and passenger cars is key to achieve the set climate targets and the lowest hanging fruit when it comes to the effective mitigation of emissions. In particular, the promotion of battery-electric solutions and the integration of the transport, energy and information sector can lead to new business models and accelerate the electrification of transport. To reinforce this cross-sector integration, Beijing shall further increase the share of renewables in its energy mix, push the construction of charging infrastructure and promote infrastructure interoperability and Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology adoption.

4. Mobility-as-a-Service is a possibility to achieve sustainable transport

The further promotion of traditional public transport as the backbone of Beiing’s transport system must go hand in hand with the seamless integration with new mobility services, such as ride-hailing and smart bike-sharing. The carbon credit-based Beijing MaaS platform is a successful start for promoting green travel over the use of the car. Further top-level governmental support is needed to guide the industry towards the better integration of different transport services into one-stop green mobility solutions. This should also include innovative approaches, such as reservation systems for transport peak hours and integrated passenger and goods transport concepts.

5. Big Data itself is no solution

Useful data needs to be effectively filtered from the Big Data flood. This shall be guided by the question of what type of data is needed and useful to optimize and improve traffic flow, infrastructures and eventually support better urban and transport planning and policymaking. Effective mechanisms shall be developed to not only filter, interpret and use this data but also to share it between relevant stakeholders. In addition, it was highlighted that strong data sharing protection mechanisms need to be in place.

Last but not least it was highlighted that with increasing complexity and with the huge scale of the city, there is no oversimplified silver bullet solution for the transformation of Beijing’s transport system. To find tailor-made solutions, which equally address social, environmental and economic aspects, more multi-stakeholder dialogues are needed.

Mr Christian Hochfeld, Managing Director of Agora Verkehrswende joined the discussion online and enriched the discussion by presenting the status quo of climate action in the transport sector in Germany and the sector’s role in the roadmap towards achieving carbon neutrality by 2045. He highlighted the important role of municipal governments in driving change and referred to that holistic approaches and a broad set of policy instruments are needed to reach zero-emission transport.

“Transport Transformation will be made on city level! Therefore, cities need scope, instruments, and new governance.”

Christian Hochfeld, Managing Director Agora Verkehrswende
International experts joined the workshop virtually; Picture Source: GIZ

The results of the Beijing Dialogue will be summarized in a white paper aiming at providing recommendations to policymakers and other stakeholders in the field of urban and transport development in Beijing. The white paper will be released during the Forum on Pathway of Future Transport & Mobility during the World Metropolitan Transport Development Forum in September 2021 in Beijing.

If you are interested to know more about the Beijing Dialogue Workshop Series, please contact:

BTI: Ms Liang Xiaohong

GIZ: Mr Sebastian Ibold

Agora Verkehrswende: Mr Christian Hochfeld

Among the experts were Mr Guo Jifu, Director of the Beijing Transport Institute (BTI), Mr Guan Jizhen of China Intelligent Transportation Association, Mr Liu Jiguang of Beijing Traffic Management Bureau, Mr, Liu Xin of Science and Technology Department of the Ministry of Public Security, Prof. Chai Yanwei of Peking University, Prof. Shi Jing of Tsinghua University, Ms Liu Zhili of Beijing Jiaotong University, Mr He Peng of the World Economic Forum, Mr Liu Daizong of the World Resources Institute (WRI), Mr Zhang Hailin of Intelligent Driving Business Group of Baidu, Ms Li Xiao and Mr Zhang Zihao of Didi Chuxing, Ms Zhang Haihua and Mr Zhao Dezhi of Daimler Greater China Ltd. and Mr Li Zeyu of Shouqi Limousine & Chauffeur.