Decarbonization scenarios and carbon reduction potential for China’s road transportation by 2060
Based on high-frequency passenger vehicle sales data and motor vehicle real-time monitoring big data, we developed a low-carbon transition planning model of China road transport to explore the pathways toward carbon neutrality. The study found that although the number of new energy vehicles increased four times from 2016 to 2019, the average annual growth rate of road traffic emissions was still as high as 20.5%. The current transportation electrification may only reduce 0.6% of the total emissions in this sector, and it could be increased to 1.4% if the electricity completely came from clean energy. Electrification is widely recognized as a powerful way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of transportation. Actually, China has ranked first in the world in terms of production, sales, and ownership of NEVs since 2015 and in 2020, the number of NEVs in China reached 4.92 million, accounting for 1.75% of the total number of vehicles. In addition, the quality of energy consumption and fuel efficiency statistics in China’s transportation sector is much lower than that in developed countries, which dramatically affects the scientific nature of carbon emissions accounting. As a result, most studies estimated the carbon emissions of road traffic sector using top-down macro frameworks based on annual data from statistical yearbooks, which largely biased the estimation of emissions.