Category: Eric Thronson

Several East Asian Countries Work to Eliminate Carbon Emissions from their Transport Systems

Eric J Thronson

Every day, more innovations are being implemented in the infrastructure of cities worldwide to increase efficiency and operate more sustainably. Public transportation is one of the most notable areas of infrastructure, and it is certainly a hot topic as different countries continue to announce new plans for improving their transit systems.  

An area of major concern in the field of public transportation is carbon emissions. With the global climate crisis growing more severe every day, many world governments have taken it upon themselves to make systemic changes to their infrastructure to reduce the impact of these conditions. However, according to Eric Thronson, several East Asian countries are leading the way with sustainable and more eco-friendly public transportation. 

Below, we’ll share three examples of East Asian countries that have recently announced plans to work toward these development goals and what this means for the future.

Which Countries are Reducing Carbon Emissions? 

As of September 20, 2021, the governments of China, Japan, and South Korea have all officially announced plans to reform their public transportation sectors with the main goal of reducing carbon emissions. These three countries are among the leaders in producing carbon emissions, with their collective contribution forming approximately one-third of emissions for the entire world. 

Each of these countries has set a goal of reaching a net-zero level of carbon emissions by its projected end date:

  • 2050 for Japan
  • 2050 for South Korea
  • 2060 for China

The term “net-zero carbon emissions” means that the number of pollutants eliminated from the atmosphere will outweigh the amount produced.  

With such high levels of pollution to account for as a result of their transportation sectors, these countries certainly have a Herculean task ahead of them. However, with their clear goals and immense budgets being allocated to these projects, they’re certainly off to a good start.

How Will They Achieve Their Goals?

Each of these countries’ plans for reducing transportation-related pollutants consists of the systematic removal of carbon-producing vehicles. Once these vehicles are removed, they will be replaced with more environmentally friendly modes of transport. For example, rather than gas-burning cars and trains, the new and improved infrastructure will feature electric railways and battery-operated cars.  

Additional revisions to East Asian public transportation include: 

  • Trucks fueled by hydrogen
  • Ships fueled by ammonia
  • Aircraft have a sustainable fuel replacement of their own

All of these changes would go a long way in reducing total carbon emissions from these countries, as each of their respective transport sectors accounts for 30% of overall air pollution.

The most drastic changes on a micro level would have to come from China’s marine transport sector, as this is a massive industry that is only projected to continue growing in the near future.

How Much Will It Cost?

Of course, such drastic infrastructural changes aren’t going to come cheap. All the new technology involved in producing environmentally-friendly vehicles can be quite costly. And when implemented at such a grand scale, the price tag just keeps getting higher. 

The projected budget for China, Japan, and South Korea to collectively spend on these initiatives clocks in at approximately $12 trillion. To contextualize this figure in comparison with these nations’ individual levels of wealth, this is almost the entirety of China’s Gross Domestic Product for the year 2020.  

While the total cost might seem unfathomable to some, these projects will be taking place over the next thirty to forty years. These countries are considered quite wealthy, so there isn’t likely to be a budget shortage so long as the reduction of carbon emissions remains a priority. However, these efforts to revise East Asian infrastructure shows just how expensive vital environmental protection initiatives can be.

Are They Likely to Succeed?

In terms of pure means, each of these countries definitely the power to achieve their lofty goals of achieving net-zero carbon emissions. They all have the capital to fund these projects and the labor force to accomplish the tasks. 

The real measure of whether they will succeed or not is if environmental protection remains a high priority for these governments. As long as the state budgets don’t end up being reallocated to other projects along the way, the likelihood of success seems quite high. 

Final Thoughts

Now that these ambitious plans for net-zero carbon emissions in East Asia have been announced to the world at large, it will be interesting to see how well the Chinese, Japanese, and South Korean governments accomplish their goals. There is also the question of whether other world powers will follow their example and create new initiatives to reduce carbon emissions in their own public transit sectors. 

Will the United State follow in East Asia’s footsteps and announce an initiative to achieve net-zero carbon emissions? We expect an answer within the next few years.

American Infrastructure Sector News

Eric Thronson

Curious how the infrastructure sector is being impacted by current events? With a global pandemic, national labor shortage, and natural disasters, this industry has seen major changes. 

Let’s take a look at how several high-profile infrastructure projects are faring in 2021. 

Central Subway Chinatown Station

In California, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has been working on the Central Subway project since 2012. The 1.7 mile-long extension of the Metro T Third Line is expected to improve the quality of public transportation in the densest areas of San Francisco. 

One of four new stations being constructed along this route is the Chinatown station, which won the International Tunneling and Underground Space Association award in 2020. 

In part, this award was given due to the complicated nature of the project. The design and engineering had to account for the historical significance of the area, narrow streets, poor ground conditions, and various utilities. 

The goal for opening the station for public use is in the spring of 2022, and as of July of this year, they have started running test trains along the central subway line. 

Pensacola Bay Bridge

Originally opened in September of 2019, the Pensacola Bay Bridge suffered significant damage in 2020. During Hurricane Sally, several unsecured barges crashed into the bridge, followed by another in December. 

After the damage was done, traffic was rerouted, and parts of the bridge closed. Although an initial completion date was set for March 2021, this was pushed back to May of the same year when the bridge finally opened. 

Drivers are still experiencing delays when attempting to cross, and the second span of the bridge is expected to begin construction in early 2022. 

Denver International Airport Great Hall

In November 2019, it was announced that the Denver International Airport was taking over the construction of its great hall project, costing an estimated $770 million. Previously part of a partnership with a Ferrovial-led consortium that amounted to $1.8 billion. Denver International Airport decided to take over the project after disagreements about project details, management, and costs. 

The great hall has just started Phase 2 as of this August. This current phase is operating concurrently with Phase 1, which is expected to wrap up by the end of 2021. Phase 2 has an expected end date of mid-2024. By the time Phase 2 is completed, four new restrooms will have been added, passenger flow improved, and a new checkpoint opened. 

200 Amsterdam

This 52-story luxury condo building in Manhattan has been the source of contention for many over the last few years. In 2020, several community groups brought a lawsuit to the New York courts claiming that the building was too tall for the neighborhood and could only be constructed by misinterpreting city regulations when the building permit was issued. 

A long legal debate over zoning laws, loopholes, and community concerns eventually resulted in several appeals and rulings before finally siding with the building developer. 

As of this September, the New York Court of Appeals denied the opposing group’s attempt to appeal another previous ruling that upheld 200 Amsterdam’s building permits. The condos are now for sale, and the building is expecting residents to move in soon. 

Purple Line Light Rail

One of the first U.S. transit projects to rely on private financing, the purple line light rail in Maryland has seen its fair share of problems over the last few years. 

The project, consisting of 16 miles of light-rail tracks, has an estimated cost of $5.8 billion and seeks to connect the Washington D.C. suburbs of Maryland. Construction stopped abruptly in September of 2020 when lead contractor Fluor withdrew from the project due to delay-related costs the company says the state refused to pay. 

Many view the project as a waste of time and money. Eric Thronson reports that some public transit systems have lost 90% or more of ridership at the peak of the COVID-19 shutdown and that the numbers are still low. With more people working from home, there is a question of necessity to this project. 

A new contract was supposed to be finalized this September, but teams bidding on the project have asked for some more time to submit their proposals. 

T3 Bayside 

When completed, the T3 Bayside building in Toronto will include the tallest office building in North America constructed out of cross-laminated timber. 

Comprised of two buildings, this project will feature a ground-floor public space, retail space, and a flexible event, co-working, and office space. The building is also expected to have a LEED-Gold certification according to the owner and developer, Hines. 

The first building began construction six years ago in the East Bayfront area of Toronto and is now nearing completion. The third residential building broke ground in early 2018 and reached its final height of just over 50 meters in July 2020. 

While the finishing touches were put on certain areas, the first wave of residents was able to move in during July 2021. 

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the last few years have shown tremendous growth and complications within the infrastructure sector. While some projects like the Central Subway Chinatown Station have been rewarded, others like the Purple Line Light Rail have been condemned for wasting taxpayer money. World events like the COVID-19 pandemic inevitably affected these projects, impacting opening dates and public perception. However, we expect the infrastructure sector to continue growing with fewer delays than in 2020 and 2021.