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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Transportation in Developing Countries: Greenhouse Gas Scenarios for Shanghai, China


The transportation sector is a leading source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions worldwide, and one of the most difficult to control. In developing countries, where vehicle ownership rates are considerably below the OECD average, transport sector emissions are poised to soar as income levels rise. This is especially true for China, whose imminent accession to the World Trade Organization will contribute to economic growth and could make consumer credit widely available for the first time. These factors are likely to accelerate automobile purchases, and GHG emissions.

Shanghai is one of China's most dynamic cities. Extremely densely populated, with very low personal vehicle ownership rates for its income level, Shanghai is also home to a nascent Chinese automotive industry. Transportation plans and policies there are designed to achieve broader urban objectives of population decentralization, with an eye to controlling increases in traffic congestion and improving environmental quality. Because Shanghai's transportation system and planning process are so sophisticated, Shanghai may be a "best case" for controlling transportation sector GHG emissions in the absence of climate change mitigation goals.

This report creates two scenarios of GHG emissions from Shanghai's transportation sector in 2020. It finds:

•Greenhouse gas emissions quadruple in the low-GHG scenario; they increase sevenfold in the high scenario. On a passenger-kilometer basis, the estimated increase ranges from 10 to 100 percent.

•Providing an array of high-quality options to travelers can help meet the demand for transportation services while keeping traffic congestion in check and meeting other urban objectives.

•Special lanes and other infrastructure to accommodate vehicles such as buses, minicars, and bicycles can save money and improve traffic circulation.

•Using clean technology and fuels in motorized vehicles lowers the environmental impact of various transportation modes.

•Perfecting the use of "intelligent" traffic control systems through improved coordination will yield higher returns on capital investments.

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