China to take millions of cars off its roads to fight pollution



The Chinese government plans to decommission almost 6m cars that do not meet exhaust emission standards, in an effort to cut pollution from road vehicles and improve air quality.

According to government figures, around 5.3m cars will be removed from the roads by the end of the year, with 330,000 in Beijing alone. Another 5m are expected to be removed next year.

The plan was outlined as it emerged that around 31% of air pollution in Beijing comes from vehicle exhaust fumes. Other regions involved will be Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta and the Heibei Province, home to seven of China’s most polluted cities. Around 160,000 vehicles are to be scrapped in Shanghai.

According to the action plan, “Strengthening control on vehicle emissions will be a major agenda item for the country’s energy savings, emissions reductions, and low-carbon development during the next two years.”

It is not clear how the government intends to implement the plan, but it has been suggested that subsidies could be offered to drivers to incentivise them to replace their ageing vehicles with newer models.

It would be the latest in a series of recent steps that China has taken in order to fight pollution, which is affecting the health of its citizens and its environment, as well as jeopardising greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.

Last week, the country signed a multi-billion gas deal with Russia in order to reduce its reliance on coal-fired power plants – the construction of which has been put on hold.

Meanwhile, it is changing environmental legislation to go tougher on polluters and increase investment in renewable energy, especially solar power.

Photo: Benjamin Vander Steen

Further reading:

Beijing issues first ‘orange’ pollution warning amid smog crisis

Chinese coal pollution ‘responsible for 250,000 deaths’ in 2011

Invisible cities and flammable rivers: China’s pollution problem

China updates environmental law to target polluters

China: We are not prepared for climate change


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