Chuanfu Wang, Chairman of BYD, on why cities are key to a sustainable future
BYD first learned about C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group when the city of Shenzhen won the 2014 C40 Cities Award in the Urban Transportation category. Our synergy with Shenzhen began when the city was the first in the world to embrace electrified public transportation by adding substantial fleets of electric buses and taxis in 2011. Shenzhen has since continued to grow their electric fleet, with outstanding results in GHG cuts and a marked improvement in its air quality. In addition to the thrill of seeing Shenzhen recognized as a global climate action leader, their win at the C40 Awards presented us with an invaluable opportunity to better understand C40’s laudable efforts to boost climate action at the municipal level and elevate mayors to a position to be able to make the necessary changes to revert the dire conditions of our environment while improving the everyday lives of city dwellers.
When BYD entered the automobile industry in 2003, the intent was to achieve feasible transport electrification and make a difference in reducing the gargantuan share of overall GHG emissions from transportation, as well as launch a broader sustainable development platform. The company prioritizes public transportation, logistics and sanitation trucks, the main contributors to the bulk of urban emissions. Public transportation, for instance, is responsible for about one-third of total transport emissions in a city. If we manage to replace a city’s entire fleet of buses and taxis – which amounts to just about 2% of its overall number of vehicles – with electric vehicles, we can cut an average 30% in emissions from urban transportation.
Once we established a solid foundation for our public transportation solutions, we felt we had to go further by extending electrification to all forms of ground transportation with the BYD 7+4 Full Market EV Strategy. The strategy comprises seven types of EVs running on-road: private cars, taxis, buses, coaches, and urban logistics, sanitation and construction trucks; and specialized EVs running off-road in four different areas: ports, airports, warehousing and mining. Our belief in the importance of streamlined, clean and effective transportation compelled us to venture even further into the sector, and this year we launched the BYD SkyRail, an elevated straddle monorail solution for the growing problem of traffic congestion in modern cities.
BYD is passionate about reducing GHG emissions, and we know the city is the ideal ground for materializing our “four green dreams”, a carbon neutral alternative comprised of solar power generation, energy storage, electrified transportation and the straddle monorail. It is thus imperative for BYD to establish solid and reliable partnerships with climate action stakeholders in order to advance sustainable development with the necessary urgency. If we are to effectively make a difference in climate action, we must seriously rethink our energy mix and drastically reduce our use of fossil fuels, while creating an environment in which alternative sources thrive. Our vision, values and mission are closely aligned with those of C40. We appreciate C40’s ability to recognize leadership, generate engagement, exchange systematic knowledge and foster peer-to-peer learning. It was only natural that we decided to become a sponsor of last year’s C40 Cities Awards in Paris during COP21. The event went so well that we are proud to be a sponsor of not only the 2016 Awards, but also the 2016 C40 Mayors Summit, taking place in Mexico City this week.
I have very high expectations for the C40 Mayors Summit, as it will be a great opportunity to enforce the agreements reached at COP21 in Paris, and assess the progress made so far. I am sure this event will deliver. I’m also looking forward to taking part in a gathering of over 40 mayors, who, along with elected government officials, NGO leaders, internationally-renowned climate experts, celebrity activists and sustainability and business leaders like myself, will exchange feedback, ideas, success cases and for cities to effectively achieve sound climate action goals. My hopes are that in the future, cities become real hubs of sustainability, where policies and practices work seamlessly to provide a balanced coexistence between societies and their environment.