Visioning and Backcasting for Transport Futures in Chinese Cities

This research project will analyse policy pathways and business models to support sustainable transport in China. Transport provides essential infrastructure for development and is often viewed as "the maker and breaker of cities" yet it is the most difficult sector within which to reduce CO2. The rapid and large-scale urbanisation of China and tremendous increasing in demand for vehicles provides an unprecedented and urgent opportunity to "leapfrog" existing technology and tackle mobility on a grand scale, both for China and other economies that follow in its footsteps.

This project is original and ground-breaking in applying a visioning and backcasting approach in transport (VIBAT) to a large city in China (Jinan). It examines a range of possible futures (2020, 2030 and 2050), outlines policy options, assembled in mutually supporting packages, and tests the feasibility of different pathways that balance economic, social, environmental and political priorities with those of a sustainable low carbon transport system. The analysis will involve different stakeholders in a participatory process, and their inputs will help shape and modify the visions and the policy pathways. The importance of external factors will form an essential framework for the study (e.g. energy price volatility and availability). The research will establish and evaluate institutional policy pathways, as well as business models, that can support the creation of sustainable transport in cities in China. This will be the first time that such an approach will have been used in China.


The proposed research output will be a summary guide (a desktop published 30 page executive summary, for decision makers, printed in English and Chinese), a more detailed background report and two academic journal articles. The project reports will be submitted to Jinan city and national governments in China to promote discussion and disseminate key results among Chinese and international research, policy, and business communities. All will be available via the Transport Studies Unit (TSU), Environmental Change Insitute (ECI) and the Chinese low-carbon economy websites.

The project will help set up an Oxford-China Low Carbon Transport Network. Experts from both China and UK on energy and transport areas will participate in this network. The project will lay the groundwork for future large scale collaborative research to apply the backcasting approach to more Chinese cities, with different scale and development stages, and to conduct an international comparative study of Chinese cities and other case cities.

Further Information

For more information and output from this research project, please contact Dr Jimin Zhao.