On January 15, 2019, the Hainan Provincial Department of Ecology and Environment and the International Council on Clean Transportation formally agreed to collaborate in promoting clean, sustainable, low-carbon transport in Hainan province.
Front left: DENG Xiaogang (Director General, Hainan DEE), Front right: Drew Kodjak (Executive Director, ICCT). Rear from left to right: LIN Xiaobin (Deputy Division Chief, Hainan DEE), XING Qiao (Deputy Division Chief, Hainan DEE), ZHOU Xueshuang (Chief Engineer, Hainan DEE), HE Hui (China Lead, ICCT), BO Yi (Deputy Division Chief, Hainan DEE)
Last April, President Xi Jinping announced a plan to establish free-trade pilot zone (FTZ) and free-trade port (FTP) in Hainan province by 2025, pushing the tropical island traditionally known as China’s most popular beach resort destination to the forefront of the nation's environmental and economic planning. Hainan’s FTZ and FTP differ from China’s eleven existing zones in their exclusive focus on environmentally sustainable, innovative development in industries such as seed production, information technology, medical care, new energy vehicle manufacturing, and tourism. With its strategic location near ASEAN, Hainan’s FTZ plan is also part of China’s multi-decade Belt and Road Initiative.
Hainan is already among China's cleanest regions in terms of air quality: in 2018, its annual average PM2.5 concentration was as low as 17 micrograms per cubic meter (mg/m3), one-third of Beijing's. Still, the province will be under pressure to meet and maintain world-class environmental qualities to support its unprecedented development plan. The Hainan Department of Ecology and Environment (DEE) envisions annual average PM2.5 concentrations declining to 15mg/m3 by 2025, and close to single-digits by 2035—comparable to Hawaii. In addition, Hainan aims to reduce the carbon intensity of major transport modes in its 13th five-year plan for greenhouse gas emission control.
Transportation, on-road and off-road, currently contributes more than 40% of Hainan’s regional air pollution, and with the FTZ and FTP plans the region anticipates a significant increase in trade and attendant transportation activity over the coming decade. Consequently, the Hainan DEE has determined to put a priority focus on transportation-related emissions. The memorandum of understanding signed by the ICCT and DEE summarizes three main strategies to promote clean, sustainable, low-carbon transport in Hainan:
- Clean up the province's vehicle fleet, especially diesel vehicles. Hainan was an early adopter of China 6/VI emission standards for new vehicles. The first China 6 vehicles go on sale there in July. A series of measures targeting in-use vehicles will be designed and rolled out over the next two to three years.
- Shift from fossil fuel to electric. Hainan is the only province in China to have announced a schedule to phase out conventional fossil-fuel vehicles, taking advantage of the island’s cleaner power grid compared with the rest of the nation. Government and public fleets will transition to new clean-energy technologies by 2020, with the transition expanding to all new vehicles by 2030. The province will kick off a study to set a more detailed “fuel ban” schedule.
- Green vessels and ports. Hainan island was added to China’s newly upgraded domestic emission control area (DECA) policy for shipping, and will implement tougher marine fuel standards in advance of other ECAs. Anticipated increases in air travel and airport emissions are new concerns for the regional government.
Under the memorandum of understanding, the ICCT will leverage its deep technical expertise in clean transport policies and its strong global regulator network to help Hainan advance its air-quality and climate change mitigation goals. Areas of collaboration will include policy research into emission reductions from motor vehicles, shipping and ports, aviation and airports, off-road equipment, clean and low-carbon fuels and vehicle technologies, and green freight and logistics programs. Both organizations will also enhance policy dialogues and deliver knowledge products targeting these areas in the region.