Saturday January 26, 2013
Beginning the pollution battle
MADE IN CHINA
By CHOW HOW BAN
Beijing will implement stricter emission standards for automobiles starting Feb 1. This means that car manufacturers would need to produce vehicles to meet the new standards for Level V.
SOME positive developments are taking place in China after major cities like Beijing were enveloped in thick smog throughout the past two weeks.
The Chinese capital will see the implementation of stricter emission standards for automobiles, starting from Feb 1.
This means that car manufacturers would now need to produce vehicle models to meet the new standards for Level V which is equivalent to the Euro V used for vehicles sold in European Union member states.
At a press conference on Wednesday, the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau announced that the city would be the first in China to introduce the fifth phase of emission standards in its bid to fight the long battle against air pollution.
Li Kunsheng, the director of the motor vehicles department under the bureau, said that compared to the existing emission standards for automobiles at Level IV, nitrogen monoxide emission for a single vehicle conforming to the stricter standard would be reduced by 40%.
The concentration of PM2.5, or particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometres in diameter, would also be cut down, he added.
“We are tying up both the sale and registration of vehicles with the Level V standard.
“In other words, from March 1, 4S car dealers will only be able to sell new vehicles with that standard and if a person wants to register his vehicle plate, then his vehicle needs to meet that standard,” he was quoted as saying by Beijing Times.
He said car dealers would still be able to trade second-hand vehicles with emission standards which are lower than Level V but those who wanted to re-register the vehicles in Beijing would have to meet the stricter standard.
The megapolis has about 5.2 million motor vehicles and the car population is set to reach six million by 2015.
According to the bureau, automobiles account for about 58% of the total emission of nitrogen monoxide in Beijing.
Car emission also makes up 22.2% of the city’s PM2.5 emission.
The bureau estimates that 1.5 million vehicles with emission standards lower than Level III are still plying the city roads.
Last year, the bureau got rid of 370,000 old vehicles and this year, another 180,000 will be off the road.
Since last May, the city has begun providing a supply of cleaner petrol and diesel with a concentration of sulphur no more than 10ppm.
Li predicted that with the implementation of the Level V standard, manufacturers would introduce a greater variety of car models to meet the standard.
Some car dealers told the newspaper that the new standard was a good move as it would help them sell off their old stock of cars with the Level IV standard.
If there is no demand for cars with standards lower than Level V, then they would sell their cars in other cities, they said.
Over the last two weeks, the worrying haze in Beijing, which at one point saw pollution reaching maximum levels, has raised public alarm.
The term “Beijing cough” had been coined to associate the city’s pollution with symptoms of coughing and uneasiness that one develops during his stay in the city.
Even delegates of the Beijing municipal People’s Congress and People’s Political Consultative Conference, who met in the city centre this week, discussed mostly about pollution issues.
In Shanghai, it was reported that a buyer of a new electric car was given the first car plate for free upon registration.
The local media highlighted that the authorities would come out with more financial subsidies to encourage people to buy electric vehicles touted to be one of the best substitutes for fuel-powered vehicles.
Car buyers will need to bid for their car plates in the eastern city.
Since the introduction of the car plate auction system in 1986, the average winning bid for a plate has soared to a record high of 75,332 yuan (RM36,964).
However, at the end of last year, the Shanghai government exempted buyers of electric vehicles from paying for the car plate.
In its editorial, China Daily said that in the wake of the latest smog, China must take effective and immediate measures to curb air pollution and environmental deterioration.
“After days of stifling smog that has shrouded Beijing and many other cities across eastern and central China, a ray of sunshine had emerged with cold wind clearing the sky.
“While rushing out to inhale the fresh air after days of confinement indoors, we should not forget our long-term role in improving air quality and protecting the fragile environment,” it said.