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Chinese cities have featured a lot in the news over the past few years. With the country experiencing rapid economic growth and its industries going into overdrive – though often with scant regard for the environment – the air quality in some cities has deteriorated to the point that health organisations have warned against spending too much time outdoors. The country’s rivers, too, bear the scars of progress as factories pump tons of waste into them, in some cases turning the water dark red.

Thankfully, though, the Chinese government has pledged to address the situation, and has this week announced plans to remove as many as six million vehicles from its roads in an effort to detoxify city air.

Although the many enormous, fossil fuel-burning factories in surrounding areas certainly don’t help matters, a report from the Chinese environmental agency suggests that 31 percent of air pollution in the capital city of Beijing comes from vehicle exhaust fumes. While the number of vehicle owners in China continues to grow each year, emission standards are still catching up with those of other developed countries and cars that really ought not to be on the roads are still being used on a daily basis.

In a move to cut air pollution, however, the Chinese government has vowed to remove some six million vehicles this year alone, targeting those whose emissions exceed an acceptable level, with as many as 300,000 cars due to be taken off the roads in Beijing alone, BBC News reports.

“The mandatory rule applies to vehicles that do not meet exhaust emissions standards,” reads a statement on the Chinese government’s official web portal. “Of the vehicles to be eliminated this year, 20 percent are in the municipalities of Beijing and Tianjin, as well as Hebei Provnce [sic] — all northern regions frequently troubled by smoggy air in recent years.”

The government also promises to continue scrapping the most polluting vehicles in coming years, focusing on “economically developed regions.”

Whether this will be enough to make the air in China’s larger cities breathable again, or quite how the government will implement its plan, remains to be seen, but it is nevertheless refreshing to see steps being taken. Just so long as these initial steps eventually become a full-on run.

Sources: Chinese Government Official PortalBBC News, eChinacities
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