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low emission zones

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As a continuation of traffic restricting measures introduced during the Olympic Games in 2008, the municipal government of Beijing strictly banned heavy polluting vehicles from driving inside of the capital’s 5th ring road. The heavy-polluting vehicles are vehicles that fail to meet the Euro I emission standard, which China adopted as “China I” in 1992. Generally they are referred to as “yellow-label vehicles”. According to the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, a single yellow label vehicle generates emissions equal to that of 28 low-emission Euro IV-compliant vehicles. In October 2009, 10 months after the introduction of the yellow-label vehicle ban, the restricted area was extended to Beijing’s 6th ring road. Reducing the number of heavy-polluting vehicles is one of the city’s top priorities until today and different measures are undertaken to clean up the air in Beijing. Among others, it is discussed to further develop the existing Low Emission Zone (LEZ) beyond yellow-label…

As a mega city with over 20 million people and 5 million motor vehicles shuttling the city, Beijing bears the brunt of traffic congestion and other constraints of urban development. It is imperative to integrate transport with city planning and environmental protection. Air pollution and congestion are two of the most urgent problems calling for attention. As a result, both an enhanced low emission zone in Beijing and congestion charging are being assessed as potential policy options. Often mentioned in the same breath, low emission zones and congestion charging schemes are in fact two very different policies with entirely different policy objectives. Whereas the primary aim of low emission zones is compliance with pollution standards (better air quality), the central aim of congestion charging is to reduce congestion and gain public revenue that can be reinvested in public transport systems. At the moment, Beijing Transport Research Center (BTRC) commissioned by…

In February 2014, hazardous smog in Beijing once more made headlines across the world. Particulate matter measurements (PM2.5) temporarily exceeded the 25 micrograms 24-hour mean considered safe by the World Health Organization by 15 times. For one day Beijing’s authorities raised its air pollution alert to orange, the second highest of the four-tiered system. To tackle the repeating smog events, Beijing released its Clean Air Action Plan last autumn, outlining the introduction of a congestion charge and an expansion of the low emission zone policy in Beijing. According to current estimates, the transport sector accounts for approximately 22% of Beijing’s PM2.5 air pollution. To remove highly polluting vehicles from Beijing’s roads a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) within in the 5th ring road was implemented for vehicles that cannot meet the Euro I emission standard (so called yellow label vehicles) in 2009. With the start of this year the zone was…

Axel Friedrich, former Head of Transport and Noise Division at the German Federal Environmental Protection Agency, visited Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport (BMCT) on 6 June 2013 and presented “The development experiences of Low Emission Zones in Germany”. Participants from the research office and congestion mitigation division of BMCT highly appreciated learning about the German experience. The following discussion was characterized by diverse questions regarding local challenges. Axel Friedrich summarized his recommendations for Beijing in two main objectives: 1) Low Emission Zones (Environmental Zones) are a potential solution to effectively reduce air pollution in Beijing. 2) Low Emission Zones should be combined with other Transport Demand Management policies (e.g. parking management) to simultaneously reduce serious congestion in the Chinese capital. Download the full presentation of Axel Friedrich here: “The Development Experiences of Low Emission Zone in Germany”