Monday, January 28, 2013

(BN) Beijing Smog Prompts Car-Emissions Tightening

(Bloomberg ) Beijing, reeling from record air pollution, will tighten emissions criteria for new cars to match the strictest European Union standards, or so-called Euro V, starting Feb. 1.

The nation's capital, with about 20 million residents and more than 5 million vehicles, will be among China's first cities to require new vehicles to meet China V emissions standards to gain registration. Local rules vary across the world's biggest energy-consuming country, even as the central government pegs its targets to those of the EU.

The CHART OF THE DAY compares the percentage of cars nationwide that comply with different emissions guidelines, based on data compiled by the Ministry of Environmental Protection. About 5.7 percent of cars across the country met China IV or better emissions levels at the end of 2011, which Beijing implemented in March 2008. Almost half the nation's fleet met China III standards, which Beijing enforced from December 2005. The lower panel tracks benchmark retail gasoline prices in China's capital against the U.S. and U.K. national averages, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Raising emission standards "will surely help relieve the pollution in Beijing if consumers are willing to pay for the increase in costs," Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, said by telephone. "Beijing is already trying its best, however weak the progress in rolling out the changes is."

Beijing proposed rules that would scrap old vehicles and impose fines for street vendors barbecuing food by roadsides on smoggy days after readings of PM2.5, the fine air particulates that raise risks for lung and heart diseases, reached a record 993 micrograms per cubic meter this month. The World Health Organization recommends 24-hour exposure to PM2.5 of no more than 25.

Cleaner standards will raise the cost of driving in China, which is already higher than in the U.S. Motorists in Beijing pay a maximum of $4.37 for each gallon of China III gasoline, compared with $3.315 on average for the regular retail grade in the U.S. in the week ended Jan. 21, according to data from the nations' governments.

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