China scraps cars to push for a cleaner future

Posted May 27, 2014 by Ryan Hite
China plans to take more than five million aging vehicles off the roads this year in an attempt to improve air quality, with 330,000 cars set to be retired and destroyed in Beijing, the government said in a document published on Monday.
Pollution in China
Pollution hangs over the city of Beijing, China.
Photo by Bobak Ha'Eri
Pollution control has emerged as the top priority for China's leaders as they try to reverse the damage done by decades of rapid growth and dissuade public anger about the poor state of the nation's air, water and soil quality.
In an all encompassing plan to cut emissions over the next few years, the state council said the country had already fallen behind in its targets over the 2011-2013 period and was now having to step up efforts to reach the levels they intended.
As many as 5.3 million vehicles that failed to meet Chinese fuel standards will be destroyed this year, the document said.
Beijing plans to limit the total number of cars on the road to 5.6 million this year, with the number allowed to rise to 6 million in the next five years.
The State Council document did not say how the plan was to be implemented, but Beijing's municipal government has previously offered subsidies to drivers who voluntarily hand in their poor vehicles to be scrapped.
Beijing currently bans vehicles that do not meet required standards from entering the city limits, but officials have admitted that China lacks the monitoring capability to ensure all cars make the cut and that drivers have also found ways to avoid detection.
The document also set targets for the closure of coal-fired heating systems as well as the installation of equipment to reduce sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions at power stations, steel mills, and cement plants, among other things.
In a report on human rights, China said its spending on energy saving and environmental protection in 2013 rose 14.2 percent year-on-year. China investigated and punished harshly illegal pollution and environmental crimes in order to safeguard people's right to a healthy and clean environment," it said.