The Worldwatch Institute's Climate and Energy Blog reported April 1, 2011 that China’s transportation sector is undergoing a revolution. As the average wealth of Chinese citizens improves, the country formerly known as the “kingdom of bicycles” is experiencing a swell of motorization. In 2009, China surpassed the United States to become the world’s largest auto producer and market.
At the end of 2009, China was home to 170 million vehicles. Projections indicate that the country could add as many as 220 million new vehicles to its market between now and 2020. Already, the transportation sector accounts for about a fifth of China’s total energy consumption.
According to an forthcoming Worldwatch Institute report on China’s green economy, China can create an average of 2 million jobs per year between 2011 and 2020 by greening its transport sector, including expediting the manufacture of alternative-fuel vehicles and the development of high-speed rail. In addition, the planned expansion of urban rail networks in Beijing alone could bring as many as 420,000 jobs annually over the coming decade.
The government’s dedication to increased investment in green transportation is due in part to the very real environmental and social problems associated with China’s rapid transition to a “car-and-truck” economy. Air pollution is palpable in many Chinese cities, and road and highway congestion has become a significant challenge, illustrated most famously by the country’s nearly two-week traffic jam in August 2010.
Green transportation, in broad sense, refers to using low-pollution transportation options suitable for urban environments in order to meet social and economic needs. The forthcoming Worldwatch study focuses on the scale and prospects for green jobs in three transportation subsectors: the alternative-fuel vehicle industry (in particular hybrid-electric and electric cars)., inter-city high speed rail (HSR), and urban rail development in Beijing. More