Heavily polluting vehicles will be banned from entering downtown Shanghai during the day late next year as the city increases its efforts to cut auto emissions and improve air quality.
Vehicular emissions now account for 60 percent of Shanghai's pollution, and experts say the problem is getting worse as more people become car owners.
Under the new rules, cars, trucks and buses will have to comply with European I standards to be allowed on the city's roads between 7 AM and 8 PM each day, city officials said yesterday.
There are now 960,000 of these vehicles running the city's streets, and about 350,000 are not expected to meet the emissions criteria.
"Their emissions cause a great deal of pollution. They have become an obstacle in the city's effort to improve air quality and pose a threat to human health," said Sun Jian, vice director of the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau.
Recent monitoring by the bureau found that the levels of pollution along major downtown roads are generally double the allowed environmental standard.
The problem is even more serious along elevated roads, especially during rush hours, when nitrogen oxide densities are eight times the non-peak levels.
The ban will go into effect initially on all elevated roads within the Inner Ring Road, including the viaduct itself, and the Yan'an Road and Humin Road sections.
The restricted zone will be expanded to the entire 110-square-kilometer area within the Inner Ring Road, including all surface streets, on October 1.
Motorists who wish to drive within the target area will have to apply for stickers certifying their vehicles are environmentally friendly.
Traffic police will issue the stickers based on a list of vehicles that meet the European I emissions standards, which went into effect in 1992. Those that aren't on the list but whose owners believe they conform to the standards will be subject to tests.
Cars, trucks and buses with out-of-town plates will have to apply for a temporary or long-term certificate at the entrances to the city.
The stickers will be free of charge.
Violators will be subject to fines up to 200 yuan (US$24.77), and two points can be added to their driving safety records, said Zhu Weiming, chief of the General Team of Traffic Police.
Motorists assessed 12 points face license suspension.
Zhu said additional officers will be deployed to enforce the new rules, which follow other steps the city has taken to clear the air around its roadways.
Shanghai earlier began to encourage the use of cleaner-burning liquefied petroleum gas in motorcycles, taxis and buses.