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Diplomacy in Action

Clean and Efficient Transportation Action Plan



The United States and China agreed to conduct extensive cooperation on energy and the environment over a ten-year period at the third meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) in December, 2007. At the fourth meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) in June, 2008, the United States and China signed the U.S.-China Ten Year Energy and Environment Cooperation Framework (Ten Year Framework).This Cooperation Framework is focused on promoting extensive cooperation over a ten year period to address the challenges of environmental sustainability, climate change, and energy security. The Ten Year Framework established five goals each with its own task force.

Clean and Efficient Transportation is one of the five goals that have been identified by both countries. Due to factors such as economic scale, population and territory, the transportation sector plays a major role both in the United States and China, accounting for a large proportion of both countries’ energy consumption mixes and still growing. Clean and efficient transportation, therefore, is critical to increasing energy security, improving public health and environmental protection, and promoting economic growth, in both nations.

In order to achieve clean and efficient transportation, we need not only efficient vehicles, but also efficient logistical systems. This cooperation should include not only production of cleaner and more fuel efficient vehicles, and development of non-petroleum alternative fuels and vehicles, but also broader themes such as traffic congestion, public transportation, transportation infrastructure, and land use planning. These issues are not singular in focus, but must be viewed in a systems approach. Effective coordination across the various TYF action plans and bilateral cooperation mechanisms such as the Transportation Forum (TF) between the U.S. DOT and China MOT, is important, especially where outcomes in one area will complement or impact outcomes in another (e.g. Clean Transportation, Clean Air and the TF).

Under the Ten Year Framework, both China and the United States intend to look at these challenges collectively and develop specific approaches that meet both nations’ long term environmental, economic, and energy needs. It must also be understood that the two nations have different transportation systems and there are many discrepancies between each other’s transportation infrastructure, and they are at varying stages of transportation use and growth. But the United States and China can share experiences and carry out cooperation on technology, management, regulations and policies, in order to find common and sustainable transportation solutions.

Participating Agencies for Transportation Task Force


Department of Energy (U.S. lead)

Department of Transportation

Environmental Protection Agency

Department of Treasury

Department of State


National Development and Reform Commission (China lead)

Ministry of Environmental Protection

Ministry of Transportation

Ministry of Industry and Information Technology

Ministry of Science and Technology

Ministry of Public Security

Ministry of Railways

Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development

China Civil Aviation Administration

National Energy Administration

Working Principles for Transportation Action Plan

  • The future successful completion of anticipated actions under this plan is a strong indication that both the United States and China recognize the importance of using a process to identify and achieve multiple benefits.
  • For action items that involve technology sharing, the parties will abide by any applicable patent, copyright, trademark, licensing, unfair competition, trade secret and technology transfer laws.
  • The action plan should set up goals to promote cooperation between the United States and China to define major and key technologies for clean and efficient transportation, and explore the possibilities to carry out joint research and development, and endeavor to develop incentive measures for technology transfer, and eliminate barriers to technology transfer.
  • Lead responsibilities for each sub-goal under this Action Plan will be defined in accordance with the corresponding domestic responsibilities of the participating government organizations (hereinafter, “the parties”).
  • The parties will agree to publicly issue a planning document or “road map” for implementation that clearly identifies the timing and targets of the projects included in this action plan.
  • The parties will agree to educate investors and industries on the action plan, and should periodically update the public on the status of and progress under the action plan.
  • The parties will recognize and support existing initiatives in which the United States and China are engaged in multilaterally, but do not intend to perform work that overlaps with these existing efforts.

Areas and Overall Goal of Transportation Cooperation

The United States and China will cooperate with concerted efforts in the following three areas: 1. clean and efficient vehicle technologies; 2. design and modality of transportation system; and 3. improvement and utilization of existing transportation infrastructure.

Overall Goal: In 10 years or so, by leveraging advanced technologies and practical experiences of the United States and China in transportation, the two countries will carry out extensive cooperation in various approaches to achieve ten sub-goals chosen from above three areas.

In addition to this action plan, the Department of Transportation (DOT) of the United States of America and the Ministry of Transport (MOT) of the People’s Republic of China signed a Joint Declaration on Transportation Cooperation during SED IV and launched the U.S.-China Transportation Forum (TF), covering all modes of transportation. Specific areas of discussion under the TF include: infrastructure development and innovative finance, including participation by private enterprises; urban congestion; technology in transportation; promotion of the efficient, safe and sustainable development of transportation; and facilitating rapid disaster response. The TF’s first project will be a joint study/survey on “Trade Flows and Infrastructure Development” between the United States and China, with a 10-year outlook. Some activities mentioned in this action plan will be conducted under the TF, and will be reported to the Task Managers of the TYF for this action plan.

Clean and Efficient Vehicle Technologies

Sub-Goal 1: The United States and China will cooperate to assist China with realizing low sulfur fuel for both gasoline and diesel.


· Both countries have agreed under the SED to expand cooperation on a plan to gradually reduce the sulfur level in fuels to 50 ppm or lower in both gasoline and diesel and introduce corresponding advanced vehicle pollution control technology. The United States will share information with China about the policies and measures used to encourage deployment of desulfurization technologies. The two countries will jointly explore options for accelerating implementation of low sulfur fuels jointly with vehicle technologies, including relevant incentives and financing options to encourage cooperation on low sulfur technologies and stimulate investments in refinery upgrades in China.

· In year 1 (2009), the United States and China will exchange information about technology, approaches for introducing more stringent emission standards for a variety of different components of the transportation sector, the costs and benefits of adopting clean fuel and vehicle policies, and regulatory strategies for implementing such policies. Relevant government departments and enterprises of the United States will provide assistance to their counterparts in China to improve understanding of the research outcomes and implementation experiences of developed countries on low sulfur fuels.

· From year 2 (2010) and onward, based on the relevant technical support provided by the United States, the two countries will cooperate on related testing, available technology, and other relevant work for low sulfur fuels.

· Regarding low sulfur gasoline, by year 2010, China will issue a “road map” for low sulfur gasoline. The integrated road map will include targets and timetables for implementation of gasoline fuel and emission standards programs. A key feature of such an integrated plan would be the availability of lower sulfur gasoline by the time more stringent vehicle emission standards come into effect. Building on on-going efforts, by year 2013, according to the economic and social development situation, China will make available low sulfur gasoline through pilot projects and other means for certain areas across the country (e.g., initially Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, etc.), consistent with the need for advanced engine technologies to meet future stringent emissions requirements.

· Regarding low sulfur diesel, China will carry out relevant studies so as to formulate a “road map” for low sulfur diesel, which be announced at an appropriate time.

Background: Low sulfur transportation fuels are the fundamental building blocks for the introduction of cleaner and more efficient engines. Low sulfur fuels enable the introduction of advanced emission control devices that significantly reduce pollution. The technologies to produce low sulfur fuels and advanced emission control devices have been successfully demonstrated throughout the world and are cost-effective. Regulatory experience of the U.S. EPA demonstrates that these fuel and vehicle emission standards are important elements to be considered in a road map for clean fuels and vehicles in China.

Sub-Goal 2: The United States and China will cooperate on technical assistance in designing more robust transportation (emissions and fuel) compliance and enforcement programs in China consistent with the Ten Year Framework Clean Air Action Plan.

Background: An important companion to more stringent vehicle emissions and fuels standards is an effective enforcement and monitoring program that ensures compliance with the law. The United States has implemented a comprehensive vehicle emissions and fuels enforcement program. Many of the conventional emissions control technologies are susceptible to deterioration and failure over time. Without an effective enforcement program, the older and malfunctioning vehicles (gross vehicle emitters) eliminate many of the benefits from compliant engines (for example, in the United States, gross emitters comprise 10 percent of the vehicle market, but emit about 50 percent of the most harmful pollutants).

Sub-Goal 3: The United States and China will cooperate to reduce growth in oil demand and CO2 emissions in the transportation sector by light and heavy duty vehicles. These actions will focus on enabling the deployment of advanced electric drive vehicles including plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).


· In years 1-3 (2009-2011), the United States and China will exchange technical information and experiences and arrange collaborative visits on how to test and measure advanced battery technologies and advanced vehicles, and continue technical exchanges on advanced materials for vehicle systems, and vehicle charging and fueling infrastructure.

· In years 4-6 (2012-2014), the United States and China will explore conducting demonstrations of advanced PHEVs capable of long distances traveled on battery power.

· In years 7-10 (2015-2018), the United States and China will, if appropriate, publish reports on its findings of advanced PHEVs and other advanced energy efficient vehicles.

Background: Hybrid electric vehicles provide a fuel efficient choice among car buyers today. In the near future, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles will provide an even more fuel efficient option. Improving battery technology to provide sufficient distances traveled between charging may significantly reduce the need for transportation related petroleum in personal car travel. The United States and China have an opportunity to collaborate to bring to market PHEVs and other electric-drive advanced vehicles sooner, and explore issues such as the potential need for additional electric power.

Sub-Goal 4: The United States and China will cooperate to assist China in promoting biofuels production and its use in transportation, and achieve the target of consuming 12 MMT of biofuels in 2020.


· In years 1-6 (2009-2014), the United States and China will exchange scientific and technical information on the development of biomass feedstock production, feedstock-to-biofuels conversion processes, product and technology standards, vehicle technologies, and infrastructure. They will also explore best practices for building an appropriate infrastructure to support the large scale deployment of biofuels. Both sides agree to start “Study on Biomass Resource Assessment Methodology” and implement “potential cooperation projects recognized by both sides.”

· By year 10 (2018), the United States and China will have policies in place to reach their respective national long-term goals for the use of biofuels in transportation.

Background: The use of biomass as an alternative to petroleum fuel for vehicles is an important future opportunity. The development of processes to produce cellulosic ethanol from cellulose-rich plants (for example, corn stalks, switchgrass, wheat straw, sugar cane, and miscanthus) holds great promise for biomass as a viable, net energy beneficial alternative to petroleum for passenger car fuel.

Sub-Goal 5: The United States and China will explore opportunities for voluntary, public-private partnership programs to reduce emissions from the transportation sector.


· In years 2-4, the United States will share experience and frameworks with China on voluntary public-private programs to reduce emissions from the transportation sector.

· After year 5, the United States and China will explore opportunities to implement suitable programs.

Design and Modality of Transportation System

Sub-Goal 6: The United States and China will cooperate on congestion controls that balance the demand and supply of transportation facilities.


· In years 1-2 (2009-2010), the United States and China will exchange information on congestion controls that balance the demand and supply of transportation facilities in major metropolitan cities as a means to reduce congestion, also taking into account economic impact and flexibility of travel by the individual.

· In years 3-5 (2011-2013), the United States and China will explore conducting demonstrations of congestion controls as a means to measure the effectiveness of various approaches at reducing congestion in large cities.

· In years 6-10 (2014-2018), the United States and China will work toward effective congestion controls in large cities.

Background: While cleaner and more fuel efficient vehicle technologies play an important role, without efforts to reduce distances traveled the benefits of advanced technologies will not be realized. The use of congestion controls has been proven to reduce personal travel and increase the use of public transportation (e.g., high-occupancy vehicle lanes).

Sub-Goal 7: The United States and China will, based on respective national circumstances, cooperate to achieve harmonization and global interoperability of their respective aviation systems while ensuring the highest degree of safety and efficiency to reduce fuel burn and implement energy conservation through the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).


· In years 1-2 (2009-2010), the United States and China will exchange information at meetings on strategic planning for future air transportation systems to accommodate the increasing reliance upon the aviation sector for access to the global economy.

· In years 3-5 (2011-2013), the United States and China will identify areas of mutual interest to collaborate on the development of mitigation strategies based upon NextGen related activities.

· In years 6-10 (2014-2018), the United States and China will continue to incorporate new technologies, procedures and concepts into aircraft operations, air traffic management and infrastructure to increase system efficiency while decreasing energy usage and environmental impact.

Background: Aviation operations have grown at a double-digit rate over the last decade in China, creating similar patterns of congestion and operations density in both countries. The United States and China face similar choices in aviation development and have agreed to collaborate to address future challenges.

Sub-Goal 8: The United States and China will cooperate to develop effective exchanges on multi modal transportation planning policies and operations to achieve greater efficiencies in the transport of commercial goods and passengers between and among various modes (truck, rail, air, and maritime), and land use configurations.


· In years 1-3 (2009-2011), the United States and China will exchange their experience in the transportation planning and operations, and may host workshops under the Transportation Forum (TF) for the promotion of efficient, safe, and sustainable development of multi model transportation systems.

· In the following years, based on the outcomes and experience of the workshops conducted under TF, the United States and China may work together to define future projects for the efficient transportation planning and operations such as technology development and its role for the efficient use of transportation infrastructure.

Improvement and Utilization of Existing Transportation Infrastructure

Sub-Goal 9: The United States and China will cooperate on urban congestion management to include policies studies; medium and long term transportation development planning discussions; and large city smart transportation development planning.

  • Development of policies and actions under this sub-goal will be discussed under the Transportation Forum, and will be reported to the Task Managers of the TYF for this action plan.

Sub-Goal 10: The United States and China will cooperate to promote innovation in the operation and management of transportation facilities to maximize efficient use of existing infrastructure.

  • Development of policies and actions under this sub-goal will be discussed under the Transportation Forum, and will be reported to the Task Managers of the TYF for this action plan.

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