The Chinese government has admitted what most experts on pollution and car emissions have known for years. One of the biggest sources of air pollution in China is cars.
According to the People’s Daily and the Xinhua news agency:
Automotive vehicles have emerged as a major source of China’s air pollution, according to a report released by the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) on Saturday (June 3)
China had 295 million automotive vehicles on its roads as of the end of last year, emitting pollutants weighing about 44.725 million tonnes, down 1.3 percent year on year, the report showed.
Analysis of air pollutants of 15 major Chinese cities showed that local mobile emitters, a category that includes vehicles, contributed to about 13.5 percent to 41 percent of total fine particle concentration, according to Liu Bingjiang, a senior official with MEP.
The MEP will enhance supervision on the production, use and elimination of automotive vehicles to reduce air pollution, Liu added.
The fact of the matter is that the danger of pollution to human health is not the only issue which needs to be addressed in China. It is the world’s largest car market, nearly 50% larger than the U.S. which held the top spot virtually since the car was invented. Sales in China should reach 25 million this year. The government could elect to permanently cap the number of cars which can travel into large cities. During periods of high pollution, there are systems to cut auto traffic by 50% on some days. Such a decision could cripple the industry
The most serious part of the problem is that Chinese cities are among the most polluted in the world. Only India has large cities which regularly have higher air pollution problems. The WHO estimates that air pollution kills seven million people a year in China. The number of people who have severe health problems because of polluted air rises into the tens of million.
Now that the government has admitted the air pollution ties to cars, what will it do about the problem? There is no winning solution, at lease economically.