With the 2008 Summer Olympics just around the corner, the Chinese government has started their plan to ban one million vehicles from the streets of Beijing. The initiative got underway this week with the intention to reduce the city’s air pollution in time for the 2008 Olympic Games, which start August 8th. From July 20 to Sept. 20, Beijing will alternate the days that vehicles with even and odd license plate numbers will be allowed to drive in the city – in the hopes that this will reduce traffic and air pollution for the Olympics. China has also announced that fuel prices will be raised by 18 per cent.
China’s incredible growth and increasing energy demands are commonly known. The pollution in the city of Beijing just relays the environmental issues around the country’s fast-paced development. With the Olympics right around the corner, the Chinese government is well aware that the one thing that can destroy all their best laid plans is the heavy smog common in Beijing.
Already a large number of athletes are severely concerned about how competing in the Olympics will harm their health and chances at winning. The Australian track and field team, and the Canadian athletics team are skipping the opening ceremony due to concerns about pollution.
The million car ban will include 70% of all government and state-run vehicles, but will basically remove cars from the road on by using an alternating system. From July 20 to Sept 20, the city will regulate traffic and pollution by alternating the days which vehicles with even and odd numbered registration numbers are allowed on the roads.
China’s government probably hopes that the recent increase in domestic fuel prices will dissuade drivers during the summer and slow down China’s hunger for new vehicles, though that seems unlikely. If there’s one lesson that China should take from this, it is that unfettered demand for oil consuming vehicles brings serious consequences that cannot easily be solved.