Host: In 2003, London introduced the congestion charge program. Can you introduce the background of that scheme and what kind of effect it had?
Liu: Actually 2003, at that time, the mayor was Mr King Livingston. He represented the Labour Party. Because the congestion in London was so serious, he had to find a solution. So the congestion charge was introduced. At the beginning, people don't like it. People say "OK, I'll spend eight or 10 pounds a day to enter into the center of London". People had to pay more.
But after one or two years, people started like it, because the traffic is improved. And the government can use the money charged from the congestion charge for new construction of London's transportation system use these funds to build up more public lines.
Also, mayor of London encouraged people to use bicycles. In London, they have some new bicycle lanes, and in big cities, people can rent bicycles. Maybe you know the mayor of London is Mr Boris Johnson right now. He is from the Conservative Party. He is still carrying on the green policy from the Labour Party. He goes to office by bicycle every day. He sets a great example for Londoner to use a bicycle.
I think in Beijing we should also develop more bicycle lanes. This is a good way to improve the traffic and to improve the air quality. And it is a very healthy way to encourage people to do more sports.
Host: Mr Liu, news reports said that Beijing and London are cooperating on some climate change actions. Could you tell us more details about that?
Liu: Yes, of course. As you know London build a C-40 organization, which means London organized the 40 biggest cities in the world in order to coordinate their policies and actions against the problem of climate change. There is a very interesting and difficult part for the developing country. That is the price of the equipment and new technology to tackle the climate change problem is quite expensive. Western technologies are very expensive. Chinese and other developing countries may have difficulties introducing these technologies.
We have to create some mechanism to reduce the price of the new technology and equipment. And in this regard, London has found some new solutions.
For example, you have a building. You have some electric energy efficiency equipment. You can use the equipment by a leasing agreement. That means when you use the equipment, the consumption of the electricity, the price of energy will go down. It will reduce by 20 to 30 percent per month, which means you could use the money you saved to pay your bills for the equipment. By this way, the developing country can afford the new technology, and also we can achieve our goal in terms of energy efficiency, which is very useful for the climate change policy.
Host: At the beginning, just now you said, people are not so happy. What did the mayor or the mayor office do at that time?
Liu: I think the London mayor's office did a very good public campaign. They prepared lots of brochures; they did some advertisement in the tubes, in airlines, and also explained the benefits of the congestion charge to people. Finally, people could accept it, but you have to have a very good public system. When you control a private car, you have to give substitutions, which means the public bus system and public tube system could provide very convenient low cost substitutions for the private car.
I think Beijing made very fast progress over the past five years since the 2008 Olympic Games, but we still need more lines. Because in the current situation, some areas of Beijing cannot be cover(ed by the metro line). According to the plans for Beijing, after 2015, the situation will be much more improved. And Beijing will have more tube systems than London and could do better than London.
Host: In the short term, people cannot see the benefits. Until people see the investment in public transportation then people can realize that. That's something related to urban management. Do you think that London is going to do something more to keep cutting carbon emission?
Liu: Yes, of course. As you know on Jan 26, 2012, London will host the 30th Olympic Games. So, at that time, the world will focus on London. So London is now preparing a green Olympic for the world. The mayor has a lot of new programs, such as to encourage planting trees, building up more bicycle lines, and improve public transport system. By encouraging the use of electric bus, London will be the first city in the Europe introducing the electric busses, London will be the first city in the world to introduce the electric bus and also the electricity charge station for the bus.
Also, I think the mayor of London has set up a fund to encourage more transfer of the low-carbon technology. I think London could achieve this objective.
Host: Sometimes those low-carbon technologies cost a lot investment, but cannot cover the cost in the short term. You know, some people said that there has to be a balance between development and cutting carbon emission. So do you think London is on the balance point?
Liu: Yes, you are right. This is a very good question. I think the solution to those problems is to reduce the cost of technology. In order to reduce the cost of technology, we should encourage more international cooperations. This is why London is interested in introducing Chinese technology. And also some equipment could be made in China. London could provide technology, and China could manufacture it. By this way, we can reduce the price of the new technology.
Host: Thanks, Mr Liu. That's all for today. Thank you for watching.