Reconciling sectoral abatement strategies with global climate targets: The case of the Chinese passenger vehicle fleet

Journal Article

The IPCC Forth Assessment Report postulates that global warming can be limited to 2 °C by deploying technologies that are currently available or expected to be commercialized in the coming decades. However, neither specific technological pathways nor internationally binding reduction targets for different sectors or countries have been established yet. Using the passenger car stock in China as example we compute direct CO2 emissions until 2050 depending on population, car utilization, and fuel efficiency and compare them to benchmarks derived by assuming even contribution of all sectors and a unitary global per capita emission quota. Compared to present car utilization in industrialized countries, massive deployment of prototypes of fuel efficient cars could reduce emissions by about 45%, and moderately lower car use could contribute with another 33%. Still, emissions remain about five times higher than the benchmark for the 2 °C global warming target. Therefore an extended analysis, including in particular low-carbon fuels and the impact of urban and transport planning on annual distance traveled and car ownership, should be considered. A cross-sectoral comparison could reveal whether other sectors could bear an overproportional reduction quota instead. The proposed model offers direct interfaces to material industries, fuel production, and scrap vehicle supply.