Tuesday, April 25, 2017

China tackles emissions..*Removes over 4 million vehicles from road

By Edmund Smith-Asante, BEIJING

There is always steady traffic in Beijing. PICTURE BY EDMUND SMITH-ASANTE
In a move to reduce air pollution and address environmental problems, the Chinese government has removed 4.046 million old and high-emission vehicles from the road throughout the country.
The last time China made such a move to reduce emissions was in 2015, when 1.17 million high-emission vehicles were removed from roads nationwide in the first 11 months of the year, therefore making the latest figure the highest so far.

According to the Ministry of Environmental Protection the figures showed that almost all high-emission commercial vehicles registered before the end of 2005 had been pulled from the roads.
China promised to cut its carbon emissions by up to 45 per cent by 2020 and renewed that pledge with a 60-65 per cent reduction below its 2005 levels by 2030, in a submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in June 2015.

Situation in 2012
A 2015 report authored by Zhu Liu, Associate, Environment and Natural Resources Programme, Harvard Kennedy School for Science and International Affairs, Belfer Centre, on China’s carbon emissions, says, “In 2012 China was the largest contributor to carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning and from cement production.”

The report indicates further that “With 8.50 Gt CO2 in carbon emissions from fossil burning and cement production in 2012, China was responsible for 25 percent of global carbon emissions. China's cumulative emissions from fossil fuel burning and cement production from 1950 to 2012 were 130 Gt CO2.
Night traffic in Beijing. PICTURE BY EDMUND SMITH-ASANTE
But according to a new report presented by the National Development and Reform Commission of China at the Fifth Session of the 12th National People’s Congress in Beijing last Sunday, the government took stronger measures to prevent and control air pollution in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region in the past year and cut down the consumption of coal in key areas in an effort to deal with the high emissions.

The “Report on the Implementation of the 2016 Plan for National Economic and Social Development and on the 2017 Draft Plan for National Economic and Social Development” said coal-fired power plants were also urged to swiftly upgrade their facilities and achieve ultra-low emissions.

Coal, energy consumption
The Chinese government says it is not relenting in taking its destiny into its own hands, by ensuring a complete reduction in pollution.

In view of that, this year its target is to at least see to a reduction of 3.4 per cent in energy consumption per unit of GDP and continued reductions in the release of major pollutants.
Specifically, it intends to cut steel production capacity by about 50 million metric tons, while shutting at least 150 million metric tons of coal production facilities.

The government also envisages the cutting of about 50 kilowatts of coal-fired power generation capacity through closures, suspensions and postponement of construction.

Environmental protection
Beijing's expanded road network  accommodates the heavy traffic. PICTURE BY EDMUND SMITH-ASANTE
Five key steps that the government says it would take to ensure effective protection of the environment include quickly addressing pollution caused by coal burning.

“Coal will be replaced with electricity and natural gas in more than three million households, and all small coal-fired furnaces will be shut down in established districts of cities at the prefectural level and above,” according to the government.

It also plans to set a clear deadline to ensure enterprises met the required discharge standards, saying; “resolute law-based action will be taken to close down all enterprises that fail to meet those standards after the deadline.”

Aside that the government says it will strengthen efforts to prevent and control water and soil erosion and make progress in ecological conservation and improvement.  

Quoting the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, ChinaAutoWeb says the number of registered vehicles (including cars, vans, buses, and trucks) in the U.S. has been growing slowly but steadily from 189 million in 1990 to 247 million in 2007.

By comparison, according to China’s State Statistical Bureau, the country had merely 5.54 million vehicles on the road in 1990, but the number exploded to 62 million in 2013 (including 26.05 million privately-owned sedans, which reached 154 million in November 2014).
China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology recently estimated that there would be over 200 million registered vehicles in the country in 2020.

The Traffic Control Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security in China said the 154 million accounted for about 15 per cent of the global auto fleet, and trails only after the US among all countries. At the same time, China has the world’s largest group of auto drivers, comprising 244 million people.
It is not difficult to notice that there are no old vehicles on the road in Beijing.
The fleet of registered motor vehicles, including not only automobiles but also two- or three-wheeled motorcycles and tractors, has grown to 264 million units, with over 300 million people licensed to drive them.

The number of licensed drivers of motor vehicles passed 100 million in 2003, and 200 million in 2010.

Privately owned small passenger cars are numbered 104 million, as on average every 100 families have 25 cars.

In Beijing, the second largest city in China, the car ownership per 100 households is 63.
In 1999, China had only 6,258 km of highway; now it has 65,000 km (and 3.7 million km of paved public roads).

In three years, it will have the most extensive highway system in the world, passing the US, which had 75,000 km of highway and 4 million paved roads in 2006.

Writer’s email: edmund.asante@graphic.com.gh

Number Crunch
As of November 2014 the fleet of private vehicles on China’s streets had risen to 154 million. 

“Coal will be replaced with electricity and natural gas in more than three million households, and all small coal-fired furnaces will be shut down in established districts of cities at the prefectural level and above.”

This story was written on March 7, 2017

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