Beijing Released a Five-Year Clean Air Action Plan (2013-2017)

On Monday, September 2, the municipal government of Beijing rolled out a set of new measures to limit industrial and traffic pollution as central part of the efforts to clean up the city’s air. The aim is to avoid heavy air pollution as it had happed in January 2013, when the PM2.5 concentration had reached 700 μg/m3. This time, not only the city’s residents had started to debate, but also international media reported from Beijing.

In order to improve Beijing’s air quality, the municipal government promised to reduce the particle density by 25% or more on the PM 2.5 scale until 2017. To archive this aim Beijing municipal government released a set of policies to cut vehicle emissions and industrial pollution in its five-year Clean Air Action Plan (2013-2017).

The transport sector is one of the corner pillars of the plan. The city’s traffic management and environmental protection bureaus announced that they will continue their traffic restricting policies and tighten the rules introduced after the Olympic Games in 2008 and of the traffic congestion package of 2011. Expected to come into effect in 2014, the new rules will further lower the limitation on new vehicles registrations from 20,000 to 10,000 vehicles every month. As a result, the number of vehicles is expected to reach not more than 6 million by 2017 (as of July 2013, 5.35 million cars were registered already). However, the measures are also targeting fuel-efficiency and environmental performance: By promoting new-energy and small-displacement vehicles, reducing vehicle usage and strictly enforcing regulations, the government expects to reduce the total vehicle fuel consumption by at least 5% in comparison with 2012. Furthermore, new stricter environmental standards for vehicles and fuel quality will be introduced.

The main targets of Beijing’s clean air action plan are split into 84 specific tasks with more than 30 responsible bodies involved, including local districts, Beijing Development and Reform Commission (BDRC), Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport (BMCT), Beijing Transport Management Bureau (BTMB), Beijing Environment Protection Bureau (BEPB) and other related authorities.

The full plan in Chinese can be accessed online ( The following table summarises the transport related aspects:

Transport Related Measures of the Clean Air Action Plan

Measures Details Target Year Responsible Body
21.Vehicle Registration Control
  • The vehicle population will be limited not to exceed 6 million.
  • By the end of July 2013, 5.35 million vehicles were registered in Beijing
  • A stricter license plate lottery will be implemented from 1st Jan 2014.
  • The current license plate lottery system was implemented in 2011. Since then the quota was set to 20,000 new registrations per month. The Action Plan proposes a reduction to 10,000 which will make it even harder to win a license plate. Currently there are about 1.5 million applicants in the pool every month.
22. Fuel Consumption Control
  • To achieve a serious emission reduction it is aimed to reduce the total vehicle fuel consumption by more than 5% until 2017, taking 2012 as a reference year.
23. Increase the Cost of Driving a Car
  • A combined congestion charge and low emission zone policy is currently subject of discussion and will be implemented soon.
  • The draft scheme of the congestion charge and low emission zone policy is expected be suggested by BMCT (Beijing Traffic Management Bureau). by the end of 2013.
  • The ETC (Electric Road Charging) system and related policies are drafted by BTMB. An extension the area-differential parking charging zones will be implemented if necessary.
  • The area-differential charging scheme was implemented as a parking management policy in 2011 to control the traffic demand in the inner city. The central area was divided into 3 charging zones with increased prices in high demand areas.
  • If necessary the current scheme is going to be revised to reinforce its outcomes.
2013, 2014 BDRC, BMCT, BEPB, BTMB
24. Management of Vehicles From Other Cities
  • The driving ban will be further developed differentiating certain areas and timings until the end of 2013. Ideally the new scheme will come into effect by 2014. The car driving ban will be extended to vehicles registered in other cities.
  • At present, in Beijing the vehicles from other cities are allowed to run outside the 5th ring road and inside the 5th ring road from 20:00-7:00. With the implementation of the new Action Plan, these cars will be forbidden to enter even certain areas outside of the 5th ring road, to mitigate the congestion in some main roads in rural areas of Beijing and reduce the emission as a co-benefit.
26. Increase the Emission Standard
  • By the end of 2014, the EU V emission standard will become mandatory for new diesel vehicles. It is intended to implement the EU VI vehicle emission standard from 2016 onwards.
2015, 2016 BEPB, BMCT
28. Phase out 1 million Old Vehicles
  • Vehicles with yellow label will be forbidden within the 6th ring road by 2014. It is aimed to phase out all yellow label vehicles by 2015.
  • The yellow label is labeling cars that cannot meet the EU I emission standard. Due to the high emissions of those cars, many municipalities like Beijing ban the yellow label cars in the central city area.
  • Old cars, especially those with emission standards EU I and II will be taken out of service.
  • To speed up the replacement of small passenger cars (less than 1.6 L) and Heavy Vehicles subsidies will be placed as incentives.
  • In Beijing the currently valid phase out policy stipulates a scrape-down after:
    1. 15 years for cars,
    2. 10 years for buses
    3. 8 years for taxies.
  • The new action plan tries to speed up the phase out of old and high emission vehicles and encourages car owners to replace their vehicle with new and environmental friendly alternatives.
2014, 2015 BTMB, BEPB, local districts
38. Promoting Clean Energy Vehicles
  • It is planned to introduce clean energy vehicles in the government’s fleet as promotion. Policies to support the private purchase of clean energy cars will be implemented in 2014. Driving a clean energy car is intended also to be promoted by clean energy buses and taxis. It is planned that new energy and clean energy cars will reach the number of 200,000 cars in total by 2017.

GIZ is working with Beijing Municipality and BMCT to understand the impacts of measures such as parking and congestion charging policies.

For further information on our project and ongoing progress, please visit our website

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