2017-10-27 01:45:46

Shandong in eastern China has joined a growing number of provinces that will no longer approve new gas-powered vehicle manufactures, a move in line with the central government’s intention to reduce fossil fuel consumption.

The new rule, part of a broader provincial investment guideline announced Monday, is aimed at “strictly controlling” the production capacity of automobiles that run on traditional fuels, while at the same time promoting the development and use of new energy vehicles.

The Shandong government’s declaration comes a year after Premier Li Keqiang vowed to restrict new producers of fossil fuel-powered vehicles during a 2016 meeting of the State Council, China’s cabinet. Neighboring Jiangsu and Hebei provinces, as well as Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Jiangxi, have already issued similar directives.

China is the world’s largest auto market, and sales of new energy vehicles are on the rise. Between January and June this year, more than 195,000 electric vehicles were sold in China — more than the total number sold in the United States last year. In Shandong, where the new guideline went into effect this week, electric vehicle sales this year have jumped by 143 percent, local media reported.

Last month, China’s vice minister of industry and information technology, Xin Guobin, said the country plans to ban vehicles that run on fossil fuels, though no specific timeline for this was given. In September, Xin’s ministry also set quotas for automakers to increase their electric vehicle output to at least 10 percent in 2019 and 12 percent in 2020. The country is hoping to have 5 million electric vehicles by then.

In the West, countries like France and the U.K. have announced that they will end the sale of gas- and diesel-powered cars by 2040, while India has set its target for 2030. However, some critics in China argue that setting such deadlines could hurt domestic automakers and ultimately the economy, too, negating the progress the country’s auto industry has made thus far.

Fu Lu, China director for the nonprofit Clean Air Asia, told Sixth Tone that though minimizing the number of fossil fuel-powered vehicles will reduce pollution in densely populated areas, the production of both traditional fuel and new energy vehicles also emits harmful pollutants.

“Meanwhile, from the perspective of life-cycle assessment, the environmental impact of new energy vehicles also needs to take into account whether the electricity for powering electric vehicles is sustainably generated, and whether used batteries can be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way,” she said.

Contributions: Yu Dingzhang; editor: Kevin Schoenmakers.

(Header image: A worker inspects an electric vehicle at a factory in Zouping County, Shandong province, Feb. 28, 2014. Dong Naide/VCG)