China gets tough to combat pollution

Top economic planner brings in new measures to limit vehicle emissions

China's top economic planner announced tough measures on Thursday to tackle air pollutionby limiting vehicle emissions in an attempt to ease the national problem.

Measures ranging from adopting new fuel standards to promoting new energy vehicles will beput in place in key regions by 2015 and expanded nationwide by 2017, the NationalDevelopment and Reform Commission said.

The move is part of a series of policy directives aimed at achieving significant improvementsto air quality in key regions by 2017. Pollution from vehicle exhaust has become a majorsource of particulate pollution, known as PM 2.5, in cities such as Beijing.

Old vehicles that don't meet emission standards will be taken off the roads in regionsincluding the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta and the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei regionby the end of 2015 and nationwide by the end of 2017.

The measures are announced under a comprehensive plan to limit vehicle emissions postedon the government agency's website.

The nation will take 6 million old vehicles that don't meet emission standards off the roads bythe end of this year, the agency said.

Big cities in the Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta and the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei regionshould adopt cleaner fuel standards that meet the National Phase V-equivalent to Euro 5-emissions standard by the end of 2015, and these standards should be implementednationwide by the end of 2017.

Under the plan, central government agencies should take the lead in buying new energyvehicles and at least 30 percent of newly purchased vehicles should be new energy vehiclesbetween 2014 and 2016.

All newly built or renovated parking lots must add a certain number of charging posts oroutlets for new energy vehicles.

Public transportation should account for 60 percent of motor vehicle use in the centers ofBeijing and Shanghai by 2015. Walking and the use of cycles in large cities is encouraged.

"All the measures are timely, necessary and feasible for significantly improving air quality,"said Jiang Kejun, a researcher at the Energy Research Institute under the NationalDevelopment and Reform Commission.

PM 2.5 reached unhealthy levels in some areas this week. Beijing saw haze that reached themedian pollution level, according to the air quality index released on the Ministry ofEnvironmental Protection website on Thursday.

Ouyang Minggao, a professor at Tsinghua University, said this year will be a critical one for families buying new energy cars.

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