Beijing wants to keep 'APEC blue'

Updated: 2014-11-14 05:15

By ZHENG JINRAN(China Daily)

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Beijing plans to phase out around 1 million vehicles with low emission standards, a move toward allowing residents to enjoy the same good air quality experienced during the recent APEC meeting.

Fang Li, deputy chief of the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, said that getting rid of the 1 million vehicles with emission standards meeting the National Phase I and II - equivalent to Euro 1 and 2 - would greatly reduce air pollutants.

To guarantee a clean sky during the APEC meeting, Beijing took a series of measures targeting vehicles from Nov 3 to 12, such as restricting the use of private cars based on their license plates, keeping 70 percent of public vehicles for governments and institutions off the road, and banning work trucks.

Additionally, production was suspended at polluting industries and construction sites.

Thanks to the tough measures, air quality in the region was greatly improved, leading Chinese netizens to coin the phrase "APEC blue" to describe the sky during the week in Beijing.

Fang said that the amount of nitrogen oxides generated by vehicle exhaust was 44 percent less than the same period last year. The concentration of PM2.5 was cut by 30 percent, authorities said.

Regional cooperation in curbing air pollution among six provinces and municipalities like Tianjin and Hebei also helped.

Of the 5.5 million vehicles in Beijing, less than20 percent are in the lowest emission categories. But each emits five times the emissions of a vehicle meeting the latest national standard, said Li Kunsheng, director in charge of exhaust emission at the bureau.

How and when the government will phase out vehicles with heavy emissions is still under discussion, Fang said.