Modeling regional transportation demand in China and the impacts of a national carbon constraint
Climate and energy policy in China will have important and uneven impacts on the country’s regionally heterogeneous transport system. In order to simulate these impacts, transport sector detail is added to a multi-sector, static, global computable general equilibrium (CGE) model which resolves China’s provinces as distinct regions. This framework is used to perform an analysis of national-level greenhouse gas (GHG) policies. Freight, commercial passenger and household (private vehicle) transport are separately represented, with the former two categories further disaggregated into road and non-road modes. The preparation of model inputs is described, including assembly of a provincial transport data set from publicly-available statistics. Two policies are analyzed: the first represents China’s target of a 17% reduction in GHG emissions intensity of GDP during the Twelfth Five Year Plan (12FYP), and the second China’s Copenhagen target of a 40–45% reduction in the same metric during the period 2005–2020. We find significant heterogeneity in regional transport impacts. We find that both freight and passenger transportation in some of the poorest provinces are most adversely affected, as their energy-intensive resource and industrial sectors offer many of the least-cost abatement opportunities, and the transformation of their energy systems strongly affects transport demand. At the national level, we find that road freight is the transport sector affected most by policy, likely due to its high energy intensity and limited low-cost opportunities for improving efficiency. The type and degree of regional disparity in impacts is relevant to central and provincial government decisions which set and allocate climate, energy and transport policy targets. We describe how this research establishes a basis for regional CGE analysis of the economic, energy and environmental impacts of transport-focused policies including vehicle ownership restrictions, taxation of driving activity or fuels, and the supply of public transit.