Archive for the ‘labeling’ Category

china’s plans for high-emitting vehicles

Friday, August 21st, 2009

A recent Xinhua article carried this quote:

“High-emission cars and trucks only make up 28 percent of all automobiles in China, but they are responsible for 75 percent of the pollutant emissions,” [MEP Official Li Xinmin] said.

The pollutant amount discharged by a high-emission vehicle is 30 times as much as a Standard IV automobile, according to Li.

Based on this, it is clear that one critical component of a comprehensive vehicle emission control program is controlling “high-emitting” vehicles. In this post, I’ll describe some key recent progress China has made on this front.

Definition of High-Emitting / Yellow-Label Vehicles

yellow label

Technically, there are two main categories of high-emitting vehicles. The first is older vehicles which entered the market prior to the implementation of stringent tailpipe emission standards. This post, as well as most of the recent policies and media referencing high-emitting vehicles, focuses on this first category only.

The second category of high-emitting vehicles includes vehicles which – because of lack of durability, improper maintenance, tampering, etc. – do not meet whatever emission standard they are supposed to meet.  There are separate strategies for managing this second category (for example, routine emission inspections and “spotter” programs), but I will save these for another post.

Within China, high-emitting vehicles of the first type are also referred to as “yellow-label vehicles.” According to this announcement, yellow-label vehicles are defined as gasoline vehicles which do not meet the China I emission standard, and diesel vehicles with do not meet the China III emission standard (“黄标车”是指污染物排放达不到国Ⅰ标准的汽油车和达不到国Ⅲ标准的柴油车”).

Control Strategy

China’s control strategy for high-emitting vehicles has essentially three parts:

Part 1: Identify

China is identifying high-emitters through a vehicle environmental labeling program. Not surprisingly, the term “yellow-label” comes from the fact that these vehicles will be given a yellow environmental label for their windshields; other vehicles will be given a green label. Beijing and many other cities in China already have such a labeling program (for more information, see this post; also Beijing’s 2004 labeling standard), but there is new evidence that MEP plans to take the program nationwide (original MEP announcement here (Chinese)).

Part 2: Restrict movement

Once the high-emitting vehicles are clearly identified and labeled, it becomes much easier to implement a system of restricting vehicle activity based on emission level, with a goal of preventing high emitters from entering densely-populated areas. There are currently restrictions on yellow-label vehicle movement in at least several cities in China:

1/1/09: No yellow-label vehicles may enter inside the Fifth Ring Road
9/1/09: No vehicles without environmental labels may enter Beijing City
After 10/1/09: No yellow-label vehicles may enter inside the Sixth Ring Road
Sources: MEP announcement (Chinese); China Daily , Xinhua (English)

8/1/09: No high-emitting vehicles inside Zhonghuan Road
Source: SHEPB announcement (Chinese), Xinhua (English)

Shenzhen and Hangzhou also appear to have similar programs.

Part 3: Incentivize scrappage / early retirement

In addition to labeling vehicles and restricting movement accordingly, China is also using fiscal incentives to incentivize car owners to scrap their old cars and buy new ones. On July 13th of this year, ten (!) Chinese ministries together issued an announcement about a trade-in / scrappage program for high-emitting vehicles, which lists available subsidies ranging from 3000 to 6000 RMB for consumers who scrap their yellow-label vehicles and buy new ones. More info in English in this AFP story.


By July 9th, even before the national subsidies program was announced, Beijing had apparently already scrapped over 80,000 high emitting vehicles. This is, of course, a terrific start, although China has a long way to go to eliminate the estimated 18 million total high-emitters nationwide.

For excellent additional commentary and analysis, visit the NRDC’s Greenlaw blog:

6/19/09: Another Look at Beijing’s High Polluting Vehicle Phase-out Plan
5/14/09: Beijing’s “Yellow Label” Car Policy Aims to Reduce Vehicle Pollution

shanzhai euro V

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

This is one of those “only in China” stories.

In my last post, I mentioned how surprised I was to see an “欧V” label on the back of a tour bus in Beijing:


欧V universally means Euro V tailpipe emission standard; the strong implication here is that this vehicle meets that very strict standard. Similarly, here is a label on a (different brand) bus showing that it meets Euro IV (欧IV, the current standard in Beijing) emission standard:


However, I just learned from my colleague that the “欧V” label on the white bus does not have anything to do with tailpipe emission standard. Rather, the bus model is simply called 欧V, with the V meaning the letter “V,” not the roman numeral for 5. The website for the bus, made by Foton, is here. In English they call it model AUV:

Although it appears that the bus is available in some alternative energy configurations like hybrid – which is commendable for many reasons – even the hybrid apparently only meets the Euro IV tailpipe emission standard: 污染物排放再[sic]欧III基础上减少30%,达到欧IV同等水平 (pollutant emissions are 30% lower than the Euro III level, meeting Euro IV equivalent).

Hmm. A bus called 欧V than only meets the 欧IV emission standard? Sounds like shanzhai to me.

vehicle environmental labeling

Monday, June 1st, 2009

This post is about vehicle environmental labeling in China.

Mandatory Tailpipe Emissions Labeling

There is currently no national environmental labeling program based on tailpipe emissions (although MEP has proposed one that will hopefully be issued sometime this year).

However, many cities in China require their own vehicle environmental label, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Qingdao, Nanjing, and more.

In Beijing specifically, environmental labeling by tailpipe emission standard has been required since, I believe, 1999. The latest formal document about the label is this one from 2004: 北京市环境保护局关于启用新版机动车环保标志的通知 (“Beijing EPB notice on use of new version of vehicle environmental label”).

This document specifies that green labels are given to gasoline vehicles meeting Euro I or higher and diesel vehicles meeting Euro III or higher tailpipe emission standard. It’s unusual that the document uses the Euro (欧) nomenclature as opposed to the standard China (国) term used in other tailpipe emission standards; I’m not sure why.

Although I couldn’t find a formal document specifying this, I also know that gasoline vehicles are further differentiated by stars, with one star for China I, two stars for China II and China III w/o OBD, three stars for China III w/OBD, and four stars for China IV. There is no star differentiation for diesel vehicles. Here’s an example:

guo4Beijing environmental label (green). The four stars indicate that this gasoline vehicle meets the China IV emission standard.

In the States, I know that California has a smog label, but I’m not sure of anywhere else that in the United States that requires environmental labeling for anything other than fuel economy.

Voluntary Tailpipe Emissions Labeling

In addition to the mandatory tailpipe emissions label, I am also surprised and fascinated by how many voluntary, manufacturer-suppled tailpipe emission standard labels I come across in China. I can’t think of anything comparable in the States; a vehicle’s tailpipe emission standard there just doesn’t seem to be a selling point or something to boast about with a fancy label. Here are some examples I’ve seen in China:

guo3Euro III (欧III) back window label on a small gasoline van.

guo3obdChina III (国III) + OBD (on-board diagnostics) back window label on a small gasoline van.

guo4busEuroIV (欧IV) label on the back of a diesel public bus.

guo4obdEuro IV (欧IV) back window label on a small gasoline van.

guo5diesel2Euro V (欧V) label on a diesel tour bus. This was very surprising to me.

Update 6/2/09: Apparently this bus model is simply called 欧V, with the V being a letter, not intended to be the roman number for 5. More info in a follow up post here.
guo5dieselThe same “Euro V” bus gets zero stars on the city label because the diesel labels have no star differentiation.

Mandatory Fuel Economy Labeling

According to GB22757-2008, cars in China will be required to display fuel economy labels beginning 7/1/2009. I will try to post a lengthier post once it goes into force. In the meantime, here is what the label will look like:

china fuel consumption label

For comparison, here is the current United States fuel economy label: