China’s First Green Freight Standards Can Save Fuel on the Road

CGFI in its fourth year will expand green freight practice in more cities. Partners of the Initiative, (from left to right) Gong Huiming, Program Director of Transportation of Energy Foundation China, Wang Limei, Vice-president and Secretary-General of China Road Transport Association, Fan Duanwei, CEO assistant of SINOTRANS&CSC, Jim Blubaugh, Director of International Programs, Office of Transportation and Air Quality, US EPA, Yi Zhenguo, Vice President of Research Institute of Highway, Fu Lu, China Director of Clean Air Asia, Liu Xiaoming, Director of CGFI Steering Committee; Director-General, Department of Transportation, Ministry of Transport, show confidence in it.

Vehicle exhaust is the main cause of haze and fine particle pollution (also known as PM2.5). It is also an important part in China’s “war against air pollution”. China Green Freight Initiative (CGFI) released the country’s first green freight standards for vehicle and carriers in its annual workshop, aiming to improve fuel efficiency and reduce CO2 and air pollutant emissions from the road freight sector in China.

Recent years have seen a rapid increase in China’s freight volume, with the total number of freight trucks having reached 11 million units by the end of 2011. Data shows that, trucks account for 36.8% of all carbon monoxide emitted by the transportation sector. The figures for hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and particles are 41.2%, 59.8% and 76.3% respectively.

“The industry requires restructuring to solve these problems,” said Liu Xiaoming, director of CGFI Steering Committee and Director-General of Department of Transportation, Ministry of Transport.

CGFI, launched in 2012, is a collaborative effort between government, the private sector, development agencies, civil society and other stakeholders to support freight enterprises to adopt cleaner technologies and smarter freight management practices. The China Road Transport Association, Clean Air Asia and the Research Institute of Highway of the Ministry of Transport are the leading organizations of the initiative.

CGFI has already carried out demonstration programs in 20 companies, with these programs achieving considerable environmental and energy improvements. “At the same time, green freight has proven to be economic for the carriers,” said Wang Limei, vice-president and secretary-general of China Road Transport Association.

“Fuel takes up 30% –40% of all the expenses for truck owners. By applying green technologies, logistics companies are able to save money. It is attractive since they are profit-driven,” said Feng Feng, senior transport expert of European Automobile Manufacturer’s Association.

Jim Blubaug, director of International Programs, Office of Transportation and Air Quality, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) introduced SmartWay Transport Partnership, a national campaign to make trucks cleaner in the US. “Since 2004, the Partnership has saved 120.7 million barrels of oil — the equivalent of taking over 10 million cars off the road for an entire year. It achieved 37,000 tons of particulate matter reduction and brought about substantial public health benefits.”

Unlike government-driven program SmartWay, the two standards, Green Freight Vehicle Standard and Green Freight Enterprise Standard are not compulsory. Companies are encouraged to apply for green freight certification. CGFI will review these applications and release the results every six months.

“Green Freight is a way for enterprises to fulfill the social responsibility and makes us more competitive,” said Fan Duanwei, CEO assistant of SINOTRANS&CSC, a key state-owned logistic service supplier in China and among the 20 pilot enterprises included in the program. “But in practice, we hope the government will offer more policy support,” he added.

“Shippers also play an important role in the Green Freight campaign,” Fu Lu, China Director of Clean Air Asia, said. If shippers choose carriers with Green Freight certification, it helps them foster a positive, environmental-friendly image for their brand; at the same time, it can be an incentive to the carriers to adopt greener practices. “Shipper engagement will be our next focus in the initiative.”