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Archive for May, 2009
Yesterday, China’s State Council announced the “Petrochemical Industry Restructuring and Revitalization Plan” (Chinese only) which mandates nationwide China III quality gasoline fuel by 2009 and nationwide China III diesel fuel by 2010 (2009年车用汽油全部达到国Ⅲ标准，2010年车用柴油全部达到国Ⅲ标准). The announcement also says that any fuels not meeting these standards may not be sold into the marketplace (严格执行油品质量标准，严禁达不到国家规定标准的油品进入市场) after the implementation dates.
As far as I can tell, for gasoline fuels, this announcement merely confirms existing standards and implementation dates. However, for diesel fuel, this is a big deal, due to implications on the timeline for improving diesel fuel quality.
The specific issue I’m referencing here is fuel sulfur content. Lowering fuel sulfur content is critical for reducing vehicle emissions and allowing implementation of advanced vehicle emission control technologies. (Sorry I don’t have time to write more on this right now; some background in this post.)
The China III fuel quality targets for sulfur content are 150ppm for gasoline and 350ppm for diesel. Although the timeline for reducing gasoline sulfur content to 150ppm has been fixed for some time (by GB17930-2006), there was, until now, no confirmation of the timeline for reducing nationwide diesel sulfur content to 350ppm. As such, this represents a concrete and important step towards the desulfurization of China’s motor fuel.
More analysis / commentary to come, and a link to the final standard when it is formally released (as opposed to just being announced by the State Council). For those of you who want to keep track at home, I’ve recently discovered that you can search planned and upcoming standards on SAC’s home page, by clicking on the 国家标准计划查询 link. In this case, searching for 车用柴油 will show you standard plan 20075424-T-469, which is in the 报批阶段, or final draft for approval, stage.
Lastly, here’s a table, as far as I understand the current situation, showing nationwide fuel sulfur content in China:
Update 5/18/09: After hearing two positive recommendations from individuals I trust, I’ve invested $40 for a year of Witopia private VPN. So I’m now able to read and post to my blog like normal, as well as access all sorts of other sensitive content (including news and video) during a time in which, apparently, China will consistently ratchet up its internet censorship.
Of course, me having access is nice for me, but does nothing to address the greater issue of working towards greater information and media transparency here within China (including the issue of how to make the content of this blog available to people without VPNs or proxies). But this is a topic for another time.
Also, Youtube has been blocked for perhaps a month or more.
My guess is – assuming they are lifted at all – that these blocks will not be lifted until after a certain sensitive date early next month.
Until then, I will post as I can and try to stay connected. I need to upgrade my circumvention methodology…I’ve been using Tor off and on for a couple of years but it seems to get slower and slower. Even now I have very limited functionality because the entire page isn’t loading. In any case, if anyone has any advice on reliable and preferably free ways to get around the GFW, I’d appreciate it if you would contact me.
China can be a very frustrating place. To any of you out there who are reading this in a country that doesn’t unpredictably and deliberately stifle the free flow of ideas because of a constitutionally-guaranteed (and court-supported) right to free speech, I invite you to pause for a moment to appreciate that.
I’m a couple of weeks late on this (still playing catch up), but I thought this recent story was worth noting.
On May 2nd, China Daily reported that “Beijing has ‘cleanest month’ in 9 years,” writing, “the city experienced its best month of air quality since 2000 with 23 blue-sky days in April.”
The excellent blog Daily Dose of Air Pollution highlighted that this claim is dubious, noting at least three other months (August and September, 2008, and August 2006) in which Beijing had higher numbers of Blue Sky Days and lower average APIs than April 2009.
I think I’ve identified the source of confusion. The official Beijing EPB announcement (Chinese), titled 4月本市空气质量创2000年以来同期最好水平, states specifically that April 2009 was the best April since 2000, not the best month overall. It seems the China Daily (or the Beijing EPB spokesperson during the press conference) misrepresented the real announcement.
Two follow up points:
1) While acknowledging progress, we should also simultaneously not get too excited over the “clean” air. The Beijing EPB claims that the average PM concentration during this month was 120 ug/m3 (主要污染物可吸入颗粒物月均浓度为每立方米0.12 毫克), which is still well above China’s national air quality target (100 ug/m3) and six times higher than the WHO recommended guideline (20 ug/m3). (Comparison of international standards in this post.) Although it is critically important in China to note progress, we must not wrap ourselves so much in cheers of success that we become blinded to the significant challenges and work still ahead.
2) The China Daily article describes in more detail than I have ever seen how the economic slowdown may have contributed to improved air quality, writing:
Besides strict environmental protection measures, experts think the global economic slowdown might be playing a positive role in environmental protection.
Zhu Tong, an environment professor with Peking University, told China Daily on Friday that heavy industry has decreased production in many polluting factories, which benefits the air.
“Most companies in heavy industry are seeing fewer orders. The output of the Shougang Group this year so far equals the same period during the Olympics,” said Wang Dawei, head of the air quality control division of the Beijing municipal environmental protection bureau.
In the first season this year, the added value for ferrous metal and chemistry manufacturing in the capital was 3.36 billion yuan ($490 million) and 1.85 billion yuan, a year-on-year decrease of 18.1 percent and 17.9 percent respectively.
If the improved air quality is indeed due to the slowdown, then this means there is even less cause for celebration.
Electric vehicles are quickly taking the spotlight here in China, with the recently announced subsidies for new energy vehicles and government plans for electric vehicle industry development, followed by the Shanghai auto show, prompting a flurry of media articles from both within China and abroad.
I’ll be posting more in the next days and weeks what I think of these developments, but to start with I want to link to some relevant analyses that may be of interest to other researchers out there.
For non-China-specific life cycle impacts analysis of different vehicle energy technologies, nothing beats this MIT report:
California also has similar, relevant reports on their Low Carbon Fuel Standards page.
Lastly, I haven’t read it all yet, but someone recently forwarded me this seemingly quite comprehensive Green Car market analysis report from consulting firm MDB:
I will be making follow up posts with key conclusions and take-away messages from these reports, but for now I just wanted to get them out there.
Greetings! I’m finally back and settled in Beijing after traveling for much of the past month (hence the lack of posting). I was in the States for two weeks of conferences / meetings and then spent a week on vacation in Taiwan with my visiting parents.
I am slowly catching up on news and blogging. To start with, I want to pass along an excellent new blog from the folks at China Car Times:
The blog features frequent, excellent posts on China’s alternative energy vehicle industry developments.