Beijing unveils new package of measures to curb pollution

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3 September 2013

BEIJING: Today Beijing's municipal government released new measures to cut down on vehicle emissions, in a bid to reduce the city’s spiraling smog and pollution levels.

The measures, which were announced on the government's website, include:

  • Restricting the number of new cars each year from January 2014, so that by 2017 the city has no more than 6 million cars on the road (Beijing Traffic Management Bureau says Beijing currently has 5.35 million vehicles)
  • Promoting new energy vehicles to reduce the intensity of vehicle use, reducing fuel consumption by more than 5% compared with 2012
  • Enforcing traffic controls focused on time and area restrictions
  • Adding more than 480 kilometers of bus lanes and introducing a public bike rental scheme by 2017, to reach a total of 60% of Beijing vehicle trips by public transport per year

The package of measures is part of an action plan from the government which aims to cut the density of PM 2.5 25% by 2017, to around 60 micrograms per cubic meter. PM 2.5 is an air pollutant that is linked to severe health risks, and which reached an extremely toxic level of 382 earlier in the summer. In the first six months of 2013, the average density of PM 2.5 was 115 micrograms; more than three times the regulated daily standard of 35 for most countries.

Changhua Wu, Greater China Director, The Climate Group, said: "Control of vehicular pollution is one of the biggest priorities for Beijing to address its notorious air pollution. I applaud the recent intensive actions taken by the municipal government to adopt a more integrated approach to tackle the PM 2.5 challenge. In the last decades we have witnessed literally the pathway Beijing has taken; from a bicycle-friendly city to a traffic-jammed city, with a rapidly rising air pollution concern. The specific targets set today, if taken seriously, are expected to turn this situation around.

"Of key importance will be the public's awareness and behavior change when public transportation becomes the number one choice for residents when travelling across the city. An urban plan that is designed to support a public transport-bicycle-pedestrain-friendly model is the next step for Beijing to transition to an leading environmentally-friendly city."

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