Clean Air Asia Report: China's Air Pollution Policies Shows Initial Progress in 74 Cities but Still Have A Long Way to Go

The implementation of the Chinese “Air Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan” (the ‘Action Plan’) has received much attention since it was published in September 2013. Clean Air Asia released the report, “China Air 2015: Air Pollution Prevention and Control Progress in Chinese Cites” to explore the current air quality status and policy implementation and progress in China, including specific policies and actions in the transport sector.

This report provides air quality data for 74 major cities from 2013-2014, as well as the pollution-control policies of on national level and cities in three key regions: Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Province (BTH), the Yangtze River Delta (YRD) and the Pearl River Delta (PRD).The report points out that compared to 2013, annual mean concentrations of the five pollutants, including fine particulate matter (PM2.5), inhalable particulate matter (PM10), sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide, have decreased in 2014. However, ninety percent of the 74 cities still experienced air pollution that exceeded the standard. What’s more, ground-level ozone pollution is getting aggravated with an increase of 4.3% on average.

The report shows that during 2013 and 2014, controlling coal consumption, eliminating “Yellow-Label” vehicles and upgrading fuel quality – are three core measures to tackle air pollution in China.

The Action Plan for Air Pollution Prevention and Control and Local Implementation Plans includes the following measures in the transport sector:

Financial Measures

Implementation plans for petroleum products, pricing policy for upgrading fuel quality and subsidy policy for new energy vehicles targeting the energy and transportation sectors.

Emission Reduction Measures

  • Elimination of Yellow-label and Out-dated Vehicles

The Action Plan demands the gradual elimination of yellow label and out-dated vehicles through measures such as designating vehicle-free zones and financial compensation. Specifically, yellow-label vehicles that are registered and began operating before the end of 2005 will be eliminated by 2015, with 5 million such vehicles eliminated in BTH, YRD, and PRD. The 2014 Implementation Plan for Eliminating Yellow-Label and Out-dated Vehicles demands the elimination of 6 million yellow-labels and out-dated vehicles in China by 2014 and that all yellow-label vehicles in China will be eliminated by 2017. 74 major cities have set annual targets for eliminating yellow-label vehicles and have phased out all of them as planned. See Figures 1 for their specific targets and progress.


Fig.1: Yellow-Label Vehicle Elimination Targets and Progress in Three Key Regions (in 10,000 vehicles)

  • Vehicle Population Control

Some cities have controlled their vehicle population to curb the rapid increase in motor vehicles and promulgated regulations to control the quotas for new small passenger cars, which may only be acquired through a lottery system or bidding.

  • Encourage Use of Public Transport

The cities have formulated measures to encourage travel by public transportation, including increasing the number of people using public transport, giving priority to the development of public transportation and enhancing the construction of pedestrian and cycling systems, promoting greener ways of commuting and traveling, and reducing the intensity of vehicle use. Figure 2 shows the public transport use targets set by various cities in China:


Fig.2: Public Transportation Use Targets in Cities

Emission Reduction in Combustion Processes

  • Upgrading Fuel Quality

According to the upgrading roadmap set by the Action Plan, China IV gasoline should be supplied nationwide by the end of 2013. China IV diesel should be supplied nationwide by the end of 2014. China V gasoline and diesel should be supplied in key cities in regions such as BTH, YRD and PRD by the end of 2015 and should be supplied nationwide by the end of 2017. China IV gasoline and diesel were introduced nationwide as planned in 2014, and China V gasoline and diesel were introduced in cities and provinces such as Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Jiangsu Province, Guangdong Province and Shaanxi Province ahead of the national timeline. Figure 3 illustrates the timeframe of China’s vehicle fuel quality upgrading:



        Fig. 3: National Roadmap of Fuel-Quality Upgrading 

Emission Reduction in Energy End Use

  • Upgrading Vehicle Emission Standards

National vehicle emission standards revised or released between 2013 and 2014 include:

  • Limits and Measurement Methods for Emissions from Light-Duty Vehicles (China V) (GB 18352.5- 2013 replacing GB 18352.3-2005)
  • Limits and Measurement Methods for Exhaust Pollutants from Diesel Engines of Urban Vehicles (WHTC) (HJ 689-2014)
  • Limits and Measurement Methods for Exhaust Pollutants from Diesel Engines of Non-Road

BTH will fully implement the China V vehicle emission standards by 2015; Shanxi Province, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and Shandong Province will implement the standard by 2017. In YRD, Shanghai implemented the China V vehicle emission standards in April 2014 ahead of other cities and regions. PRD has implemented China IV diesel vehicle emission standards since July 1, 2013, and has applied to the National Government to implement China V vehicle emission standards ahead of its planned schedule.

New Measures

  • Emissions from Non-Road Mobile Machinery and Ports and Vessels

In the Action Plan, the National Government demands the control of pollution from non-road mobile machinery such as engineering machinery and vessels.

YRD: Shanghai has actively promoted the use of “shore power” by vessels and has completed shore-based power supply pilot projects at the Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal and the Shanghai Guandong International Container Terminal. The city has also promoted oil-to-electricity pilot projects for container-handling equipment such as rubber-tired gantry (RTG) cranes, and 400 LNG port trucks will be provided by the end of 2017. In Jiangsu Province, all RTG cranes will switch from oil to electricity or electricity powered cranes will be used by 2017 in container terminals. More than 80% of handling equipment will switch from oil to electricity (gas) in general cargo terminals.

PRD: Newly built cruise terminals must be equipped with shore power facilities, and newly built container terminals with a capacity of more than 100,000 tons must be equipped with shore power facilities or have space and capacity to build such facilities. Comprehensive oil-vapor recovery in crude and product oil terminals should be completed by the end of 2017. The region will complete the oil-to-electricity switch of RTG cranes in major seaports and inland ports by the end of 2017. The China I vessel-engine emission standards have been in effect since January 1, 2014. All working ships and port-management ships will use shore power by the end of 2017.

To read the report, please see here.