China is the world’s biggest automobile market and now over 550 major car models are banned.

In a sweeping order, Chinese authorities have banned more than 550 car models for failing to meet fuel economy standards. Car models affected by this order include models from Chevrolet, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz.

This order is only the latest is a series of dictates signifying the seriousness with which China is tackling the massive pollution in its cities. With China being the world’s biggest car market, and with automobiles contributing an estimated 30 percent of city pollution, it’s not only important but critical for the country to clamp down on automobile pollution.

Less than a decade ago, China was panned for its failure to support the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference. That conference, attended by 192 countries, was supposed to enact a legally-binding treaty to address global warming and climate-related concerns. But a 2012 study by the Renmin University of China found that 93 percent of respondents believed climate change was happening. Together with political and economic concerns, Chinese authorities turned a full 180 degrees on climate change skepticism and began embracing policies for a greener environment.

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Electric Police Vehicle in Suzhou China 2011 By Mai-Thai – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24949203

Taking effect on January 1, this ban on specific models is only an interim step towards a ban on fossil-fueled cars in China. Other automobile-related measures to clean up China’s environment include incentives for purchasing hybrid or electric vehicles, preventing older and less efficient cars to return to the road, and stricter implementation of fuel economy standards. Hence the latest order banning more than 500 car models.

This ban is the first that uses a specific list of vehicles. In previous years, China took steps to combat its pollution problem by restricting coal usage, limiting steel production, promoting renewable energy, and starting a multiyear plan to ban fuel-fossil powered vehicles.

And yet, the reverse is being done in the United States. Policies favorable to big business are being enacted, and regulations are being revised to suit those policies.

In the meantime, China’s drive to a greener environment has resulted in the construction of nuclear plants, the closure of coal-fueled power plants, and the halt in the construction of new coal-fired power plants. It is also promoting low-carbon industries to drive the economy in the next decades. In Beijing, these measures, combined with a favorable weather pattern, have resulted in a 35% drop in pollution levels from 2012.

China’s greener future could position itself to be an even larger global player in the not too distant future. California Governor Jerry Brown warns China poses a major threat to the U.S. car industry. President Xi has told President Trump that China will continue to fight climate change “whatever the circumstances”. Perhaps this is in reference to the actions Trump has taken to reverse the environmental policies of his predecessor.

Do you think we are falling behind China in the automobile industry or in green energy?

 

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