Monday, August 27, 2007

Beijing traffic restriction not a silver bullet for air pollution

Environmental News Network, via the Worldwatch Institute: A recent traffic restriction that limited driving in China’s capital city during the four-day “Good Luck Beijing” Olympic test games initially resulted in a measurable improvement in the city’s haze, according to Beijing officials. But over the full period of the restriction, air pollution levels in fact showed a slight increase, The Washington Post reported. Zhao Yue, vice director of the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, noted on the agency’s Web site that humid, windless conditions had trapped particulate matter in the city, preventing greater improvement.

… In a model simulation, city officials had projected that taking some 130 million vehicles off the road each day would lead to a 40 percent reduction in the capital’s auto emissions.

Ever since Beijing promised to host the ‘greenest’ Olympics ever in 2008, the local government has plowed a fortune into major measures to tackle the capital’s long-standing air pollution problem. These include switching Beijing’s primary energy usage from coal to natural gas, relocating highly polluting industries outside of city limits, adopting stricter auto emissions standards, using cleaner fuels for public buses, and replacing coal boilers with electric or gas boilers.

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