China has been cracking down on high-emission transport in an effort to lower the huge amount of smog evident in its major cities.
Subsequently, a vast number of scrapyards and recycling sites now contain thousands of completely abandoned buses, cars and trucks. None of the vehicles in the scrapyards were able to meet even the most lenient of emissions standards.
Reports of Beijing having over 20 times the amount of air pollution considered healthy by the World Health Organisation led to the initiative: it’s believed that vehicle emissions accounted for almost a third (31.1 per cent) of toxic air in the capital at the time of reporting.
Hangzhou, one of the most picturesque cities in the country, registered 239 days of smog during 2013 – almost 90 days more than the annual average. 40 per cent of the city’s air pollution levels are currently due to vehicle emissions.
The Chinese government has been consistently pushing for ‘green’ upgrades to vehicles and has recently set new carbon-cutting targets. All new transport vehicles will have to comply with National Standard IV fuels from January 2016.
The fuels should guarantee seven times fewer sulphur emissions than the country’s previous standard. However, this fuel only represents three per cent of the current market due to a lack of availability, leaving many residents simply unable to upgrade.
There is currently one car for every two people in the city, with a fourfold increase in income taking place during the last 15 years. The mayor recently introduced 2,500 green public transport vehicles, but the escalating middle class in Hangzhou continue to prefer travelling by private car.