More than 80% of urban residents are exposed to air pollution levels higher than the World Health Organization’s (WHO) limits. In particular, the continuous growth of air pollutants emissions resulting from rapid urbanization and industrialization has made East Asia one of the most affected regions in the world.
During the Seoul International Forum on Air Quality Improvement 2019 on 22-23 May, one thematic session was dedicated to the transportation sector, and how electric vehicles could be utilized in tackling urban air pollution. Endeavors have been made particularly on supporting the electric vehicles to take over the crown of the diesel vehicles.
UN Environment has identified 25 simple and cost-effective measures which could help to improve the air quality in Asia and the Pacific. “Among them, UN Environment is currently paying a special focus on mainstreaming electric vehicles,” said Dr. Isabelle Louis, Deputy Regional Director of UN Environment Asia and the Pacific.
“Compared to the rest of the world,” added Dr. Louis, “Cities in Asia Pacific are leading efforts in reducing emissions with electric vehicles.” For instance, Chinese cities now have the highest number of electric cars and buses on the road in the world, whereas many cities in Southeast Asia are promoting electric vehicles for informal public transport.
Beijing identifies diesel vehicles and non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) as the biggest contributors of PM2.5 in the city, accounting for 64% of total mobile sources emissions. According to Kunsheng Li, Director of Vehicles Emission Management Division of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Ecology and Environment, around 3 million old vehicles have been replaced and scraped in Beijing since 2009, and more than 26,000 electric vehicles have been registered, accounting for roughly 10% of China. Meanwhile, 160,000 charging facilities have been installed city-wide. The Chinese Capital has set the goal to increase the number of registered electric vehicles in the city to 400,000 by 2020.
Similarly, Shenzhen has also identified emissions from mobile sources to account for over 50% of the total emissions in the city, with diesel vehicles contributing to over 85% of the total PM2.5 emissions from motor vehicles. In tackling the pollution, Shenzhen first introduced the motor vehicles labelling management system in 2003, and has successfully removed 200,000 old vehicles with emission standards lower than Euro I since 2016. Furthermore, the city is proud to have fully achieved 100% all-electric vehicles buses and taxis in the city.
In Korea, diesel cars account for 37% of all registered vehicles, but contribute to 29% of the total fine dust emissions in the Greater Seoul Metropolitan Area, followed by construction machinery (22%), heating and air conditioning (12%), and nonindustrial sources (10%). In reducing the level of fine dust in the city, Seoul has pushed forward various projects and programs in strengthening vehicles emissions restrictions, introducing the Green Transit Zone, and expanding the use of electric and hydrogen vehicles -- with a goal of replacing all small- and medium-sized buses with electric ones by 2023.
In addition, with the increasing interest in the management of old-aged diesel vehicles, Seoul has been working closely with Beijing, the Capital city of China, to exchange mitigation know-now and seek opportunities for cooperation.
It appears that East Asian Cities are not falling behind cities in Europe and North America regarding the transform towards less fossil fuel-dependent mode of transport, including electric vehicles.
Liuhanzi Yang of ICCT China (the International Council on Clean Transportation) approved, “Mayor Sadiq Khan from London City planned a consultation early next year on phased reduction in maximum taxi age limits for the dirtiest vehicles from 15-20 years by 2022.”