Beijing has this week made good on the government’s pledge to launch a crackdown on air pollution following the deadly smog that afflicted the city earlier this year.
In a widely anticipated move, the municipal government unveiled a new five year plan designed to reduce levels of PM 2.5 pollution by at least 25 per cent by 2017 through tough new restrictions on vehicle emissions, power plants and outdoor barbecues or boilers.
The new plan, which was reported through the state-backed Xinhua news agency, pledges to ensure that vehicle ownership in the city does not increase from current levels of 5.35 million to over six million, while also ensuring that fuel consumption across the fleet falls five per cent against 2012 levels.
It also confirms that time and area restrictions will be imposed on passenger cars from next year, while some officials are also calling for higher parking charges and fuel levies.
“In order to curb vehicle emissions, we have to introduce a market mechanism to reduce intensity of vehicle use,” Li Kunsheng, an official in charge of vehicle emission management with the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau, was quoted as saying.
The business community could also face major new air quality restrictions, with 1,200 companies set to face official orders requiring them to upgrade equipment or close parts of their facilities by 2016. Xinhua reported that companies that fail to meet new pollution targets would be ordered to shut down completely.
In addition, those regions that have the worst air pollution will not be able to grant planning permission to new industrial facilities, while promised energy and water market reforms are expected to drive up costs for industrial users, providing them with a further incentive to improve their efficiency.