Beijing’s Peak Car Transition: Hope for Emerging Cities in the 1.5 °C Agenda

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Beijing’s Peak Car Transition: Hope for Emerging Cities in the 1.5 °C Agenda


  • Yuan Gao Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute (CUSP), Australia
  • Peter Newman Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute (CUSP), Australia


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Abstract:  Peak car has happened in most developed cities, but for the 1.5 °C agenda the world also needs emerging cities to go through this transition. Data on Beijing shows that it has reached peak car over the past decade. Evidence is provided for peak car in Beijing from traffic supply (freeway length per capita and parking bays per private car) and traffic demand (private car ownership, automobile modal split, and Vehicle Kilometres Travelled per capita). Most importantly the data show Beijing has reduced car use absolutely whilst its GDP has continued to grow. Significant growth in electric vehicles and bikes is also happening. Beijing’s transition is explained in terms of changing government policies and emerging cultural trends, with a focus on urban fabrics theory. The implications for other emerging cities are developed out of this case study. Beijing’s on-going issues with the car and oil will remain a challenge but the first important transition is well underway.

Keywords:  Beijing; emerging cities; peak car; traffic demand; traffic supply; urban fabrics

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v3i2.1246


© Yuan Gao, Peter Newman. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.