Capital sets tougher emissions standards

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 February, 2008, 12:00am

New cars in the city must comply with Euro IV

Beijing will introduce new emissions standards for new cars next month amid mounting concerns over its ability to improve the city's choking air quality ahead of the Olympics.

But the move, making the capital the first mainland city to comply with Euro IV emissions standards, has been questioned by state media as being premature. Xinhua said in a commentary yesterday that Beijing's introduction of the National IV emissions standard - equivalent to the Euro IV - at least two years ahead of a nationwide trial, had underlined a dilemma between the government's ambition to cut pollution and the relatively low quality of its fuels.

Motorists who travelled outside the capital with Euro IV-compliant cars would not be able to find fuel suitable for their engines, Xinhua said.

Under Beijing's plan, unveiled by Du Shaozhong , spokesman for the city's environmental protection bureau, sales of new petrol-fuelled light vehicles that failed to meet the new emissions standards would be banned from March 1, the Beijing Times reported yesterday.

Heavy vehicles used for public transport, sanitation and postal services will apply the new standard in July, while those for other purposes can still use the existing National III standards. The new standards will not apply to the more than 3 million cars already on the road in Beijing, which have taken the most blame for the city's smog.

In an apparent move to improve the city's environmental image, Mr Du said the stricter standards were expected to drastically reduce emissions of key pollutants, especially particulate matter.

Particulate matter, a major pollutant in the capital, is harmful to the respiratory system.

Mr Du was upbeat about the effectiveness of the move, saying a total of 330 tonnes of particulate matter would be reduced every year along with other key pollutants, including carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides.

Beijing began implementing the Euro I standard in 1999 and Euro II in 2002. The standard was raised to Euro III in 2005, when European countries implemented Euro IV.

The spokesman denied the move was introduced in a rush to meet Beijing's pledges for an environmentally friendly Olympic Games.

'We have made full preparations for the new standards and the city has got everything ready for the National IV standards,' he was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

He played down concerns over the policy's impact on vehicles travelling outside Beijing, saying cars would only be damaged if they used regular fuel for a long period and over a distance of more than 20,000km.

He also said Beijing would not lift a ban on diesel vehicles because they emitted more pollutants, such as particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, than petrol vehicles.

Mainland experts said the new policy was likely to upset many people, including car owners and manufacturers, who worry that stricter environmental standards would raise the cost of vehicles.

It also underscored the discord between the country's environmental watchdog and the planning authorities, which hoped to promote domestic car brands and encourage the use of diesel engines.

Clean sweep

The amount of particulate matter, in tonnes, that will be cut from vehicle emissions in Beijing every year by the new standards: 330