China is trying to stave off rising pollution from cars by enacting a law requiring low-sulfur fuels, but faces opposition from the driving public, environmental officials said Thursday.
BEIJING China is trying to stave off rising pollution from cars by enacting a law requiring low-sulfur fuels, but faces opposition from the driving public, environmental officials said Thursday.
Residents of at least 400 Chinese cities will face health hazards from airborne sulfur by 2010 if pollution from cars isn't brought under control, Vice Minister Zhu Guangyao of the State Environmental Protection Administration said at a joint seminar with U.S. environmental officials.
Chinese car sales are booming and the country already is one of the world's largest makers and buyers of automobiles.
The new law is expected to force manufacturers to set tighter limits each year on sulfur emissions by new cars, Zhu said, without specifying the limits.
But SEPA officials said the growing popularity of private cars in China will make it harder to push for more fuel efficiency and cleaner vehicles.
"Chinese car buyers are not rational," said Li Xinmin, an official of the agency. "They buy vehicles to show others what a large and beautiful car they have."
China is trying to change the public's mind by giving tax rebates for environmentally friendly cars, Li said.
China has also enlisted the help of the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration for advice on how to approach the problem.
The United States has been providing China with ideas about reducing sulfur levels in fuel, emission controls, and fuel efficiency, said Margo Oge, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's director for transportation and air pollution.
She said China faces the same problems as her country.
"In the U.S., people say their car is their freedom," she said. "I imagine if you ask the Chinese, you would receive the same reply."
Source: Associated Press