One area the government has yet to touch is to replace clean diesel engines in trucks. According to a research document from the Ministry of Environmental Protection, trucks were 5 percent of China's 19.3 million vehicles last year but emitted more than 60 percent of particulate matter from all vehicles.
"China isn't importing clean diesel. It's refining it," said David Vance Wagner, senior researcher at the nonprofit International Council on Clean Transportation. "The main problem is that the big state-owned oil companies are not properly incentivized to upgrade their refineries and provide higher-quality diesel."
Currently, the price of fuel at the pump is fixed by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). The bad air quality has prompted the Ministry of Finance and NDRC to negotiate with the oil companies about subsidies in order to encourage high-quality fuel. The government's endowment is expected to be decided soon.
With the bits and pieces done, Beijing residents are still awaiting a solution that would hit the heart of the problem: the need for efficient regional collaboration.
Before the Olympics, Beijing officials relocated a large number of factories to Hebei province and Tianjin, the city next to the capital, in order to ensure that thousands of tourists flocking into the city could see the blue sky. But the key issue of cutting cumulative emissions has yet to be handled.
Disconnect between local and national efforts
"The pollution is regionally produced," Earley said. "Beijing has to cooperate with Hebei," given the rough relationship between the Hebei government and Beijing government, which is said to regard itself as superior due to its close proximity to the central government.
Then there is the "secondary pollution," which is the chemicals that emerge after the sun heats pollutants as they mix in the atmosphere. No one is responsible for clearing that up under the current laws and operations of the government.
The disconnection between provincial governments is one hurdle at the micro level. A national plan to smooth the expansion of alternative energy is another test.
China's connected wind capacity has grown from 1.3 gigawatts in 2005 to 60 GW by the end of 2012, driven by a feed-in tariff and decreasing cost. The country has also created a feed-in tariff for solar and upgraded the 2020 solar development target from 20 GW to 50 GW.
But, according to He, the challenge for renewables in China is to build a smart grid that is friendly enoug
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500