Under a Sino-US project, diesel vehicles in Beijing will be retrofitted to reduce emissions.
The demonstration project aims to examine the feasibility of retrofitting diesel fleets in Beijing with advanced emissions control technology and cleaner fuel.
If effective, the practice will be promoted across the country in a bid to improve air quality, Chinese and US environment officials said yesterday after signing the work plan of the project.
The project comes under the air and energy co-operation strategy between China's State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Also signed yesterday between SEPA and EPA was a general work plan on vehicle emission control and transportation issues, which also comes under the SEPA-EPA clean air and energy strategy.
The work plan lists areas of Sino-US collaboration such as fuel quality, heavy-duty diesel retrofits,technologies for vehicles in use and short-term priorities such as the Beijing project.
A committee composed of Chinese and US experts will work out the details of the Beijing project, said Pan Shuda, chief engineer of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Administration.
Issues such as how many and what type of vehicles will be refitted and how long the project will last have yet to be decided by the committee.
Through the project, China may benefit from and be able to adopt some of the technical expertise in the US, said Margo Tsirigotis Oge, director of EPA's office of transportation and air quality.
Xie Shaodong with the department of environmental science of the Beijing-based Peking University said diesel vehicles emit less gaseous pollutants such as carbon monoxide and boast greater power than gasoline-driven vehicles.
However, they let out more inhalable particulates than gasoline vehicles, he said. Inhalable particulates are the leading air pollutants in the capital.
Xie said under current technical levels, diesel vehicles should not be promoted in large numbers in the country.
According to sources with the Beijing bureau, about 6 per cent of vehicles running in the city, some 140,000, are diesel ones.
Among Beijing's 17,000 buses, 6,500 are diesel-powered.
Beijing will host the next Olympic Games in 2008. It has promised that air quality in the city will be as good as that in developed countries during the games.
Beijing is likely to adopt the Euro III emissions standard by 2005, said Zhang Lijun, head of SEPA's pollution control division in early July when announcing standards equivalent of the Euro II came into effect across China.
Beijing, which has the largest number of vehicles on its roadways in the country, began implementing the Euro II standards at the beginning of last year.