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2014-05-27 13:40

JOE McDONALD

CRACKDOWN ON OLD CARS: The Chinese government will 'phase out' six-million cars registered before 2005 in an effort to reduce soaring smog levels. Image: Shutterstock

BEIJING, China - The severe smog problem over Chinese cities has finally forced its government to take six-million older vehicles off its road.

The plan also calls for fuel stations in Beijing, Shanghai and other major cities to switch to selling only the cleanest grades of petrol and diesel, according to a Cabinet statement.

China has failed to meet official 2011-2013 pollution reduction goals so vehicles registered before 2005 that fail to meet cleaner emissions standards will be "phased out". The 'how' was not explained but the statement described the country's environmental situation as "extremely grim".

EYE-SEARING SMOG

China's major cities are smothered in eye-searing smog. The country has some of the world's strictest emissions standards but authorities have refrained from enforcing them to avoid forcing older, pollution-belching, trucks off the road and hurting small businesses.

An announcement made on Monday (May 26 2014) suggests authorities have settled that conflict in favour of environmental protection following reports on the mounting health and economic costs of pollution.

China has about 240-million vehicles on the road, half of them cars, according to the Ministry of Public Security. It is the world's biggest auto market by numbers sold - 17.9-million in 2013 - though the rate of sales growth is slowing.

Taxis and buses in major cities have been required to switch to natural gas or electricity. The government is promoting the development of an electric-car manufacturing industry.

City governments in Beijing, Shanghai and other major cities have imposed curbs on new vehicle restrictions in an attempt to reduce smog and traffic congestion.
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