China plans stricter fuel standards after smog

February 7, 2013
Traffic makes its way through Beijing on January 12, 2013. China has announced stricter motor fuel standards in a bid to reduce harmful emissions after smog blanketed much of the country last month—but the measures will not come fully into force for almost five years.

China has announced stricter motor fuel standards in a bid to reduce harmful emissions after smog blanketed much of the country last month—but the measures will not come fully into force for almost five years.

"Following the rapid growth in car ownership, are having an increasing impact on ," the central government said in a statement posted on its website late Wednesday.

The powerful State Council, or cabinet, mandated that sulphur content for both petrol and diesel would be set at no more than 10 parts per million (ppm) by 2017, a reduction from the current 50 ppm, according to the statement.

Burning fuel with sulphur produces sulphur dioxide, a major air pollutant.

The Chinese capital Beijing has already started to implement the new standard but other cities will have a "grace period" until the end of 2017, the official Xinhua news agency said separately.

"The timetable shows that China will step up its pace to upgrade gas quality," Wang Zhen, deputy head of the China Research Institute at the China University of Petroleum, was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

Beijing and vast swathes of were covered by a toxic haze several times in January, sparking anger online and prompting unusually outspoken calls for action, even from state-run media.

The pollution has been blamed on emissions from coal burning in power stations but also exhaust fumes from vehicles on traffic-clogged streets.

Chinese car ownership has exploded as produces greater wealth. The country is now the world's largest auto market with an estimated 240 million motor vehicles on the road, official figures show.

A top official of Chinese oil giant Sinopec said last week that the company would sell oil products meeting higher environmental standards by the end of 2014 after upgrading its refineries.

But cleaner fuel could also mean higher prices at the pump, Xinhua said, amid worries surging costs could cause social discontent.

Explore further: Beijing vehicles exceed four million: state media

Related Stories

Beijing vehicles exceed four million: state media

December 19, 2009

The number of registered vehicles in Beijing topped four million this week, state media reported, meaning a quarter of the 16 million permanent residents in China's capital have a car.

Hundreds of flights cancelled due to Beijing smog

December 5, 2011

Beijing authorities cancelled hundreds of flights and shut motorways on Monday as thick smog descended on the Chinese capital, reducing visibility at one of the world's busiest airports.

China orders nationwide emission cuts by 2015

December 20, 2011

China on Tuesday ordered local governments to reduce emissions of "major pollutants" by as much as 10 percent by 2015, amid growing public anxiety over the country's bad air.

China orders more accurate air-quality measure

February 29, 2012

China's cabinet ordered on Wednesday new air-quality standards to measure the most dangerous form of particulate matter, following a public outcry over worsening air pollution.

Beijing vows efforts to fight pollution

January 22, 2013

China's capital Beijing will strengthen measures to combat pollution, state media reported Tuesday, amid public anger over the dangerous air quality in the sprawling metropolis.

Recommended for you

Asteroid impact, volcanism were one-two punch for dinosaurs

October 1, 2015

Berkeley geologists have uncovered compelling evidence that an asteroid impact on Earth 66 million years ago accelerated the eruptions of volcanoes in India for hundreds of thousands of years, and that together these planet-wide ...

History shows more big wildfires likely as climate warms

October 5, 2015

The history of wildfires over the past 2,000 years in a northern Colorado mountain range indicates that large fires will continue to increase as a result of a warming climate, according to new study led by a University of ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.