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Published January 7, 2008 03:26 PM

Beijing Introduces Strictest Fuel Standard Yet

On January 1, China’s capital city of Beijing introduced its toughest vehicle fuel standard yet. The rule requires that gasoline and diesel sold in the city must comply with the new China IV emission standards, equivalent to the European Union’s Euro IV standards. Under the elevated standard, motor fuels are permitted to contain only 50 parts per million (ppm) of sulfur, compared with the previous China III level of 150 ppm.

The reduction requirements are aimed largely at achieving acceptable air quality for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The earlier China III standards, implemented in late 2005, reduced sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions from automobiles by some 2,480 tons annually, according to China Daily. The latest phase would cut SO2 emissions by another 1,840 tons a year, said Feng Yuqiao of Beijing’s Environment Protection Bureau.

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Beijing’s smoggy skies can be traced in large part to rising emissions from the city’s growing automotive fleet, according to scientists. Vehicle pollution, including nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter, is responsible for 40 to 50 percent of the city’s air pollution. In 2006, there were 29 million cars on Chinese roads, and each day some 1,000 new cars are added to the streets of Beijing alone, according to the Worldwatch Institute’s recent report, Powering China’s Development.

Beijing officials hope to have 70 percent of the days in 2008 meet the city’s so-called “blue sky” standards, a scale of up to 500 that requires air quality to score below 101 to be considered “blue sky.” Last year, Beijing achieved its goal of 245 such days by adopting a series of measures that included increasing the availability of public transportation and reducing ride fares.

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