BEIJING Beijing plans to implement harsher emission standards for vehicles starting next month, one of its latest emergency measures to curb the city's air pollution, official Xinhua News Agency reported on Wednesday.
The new Beijing V emission standard, similar to the Euro V standard in Europe, will be adopted as of February 1, Xinhua cited Fang Li, spokesman for the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau, as saying.
The new rule applies to vehicles that have yet to receive license plates and not those already in use.
Sales and plate registrations for diesel-powered vehicles that fail to meet the new standards will be halted, and sales of gasoline cars that cannot meet the standards will be banned from March.
The number of private cars in Beijing, among China's most populous cities with a population of 20 million, is still growing fast.
Beijing's total number of vehicles is likely to hit 6 million by 2015, up from 5.2 million, Xinhua said.
Once the new standard comes into effect, it will help the capital cut nitrogen oxide emissions from vehicles by about 40 percent.
Beijing is among the first major Chinese cities to start using Euro IV standard gasoline but still there are many trucks running in the city which burn low quality diesel. More public buses have started burning natural gas.
Air quality in Beijing is of increasing concern to China's leadership because it plays into popular resentment over political privilege and a rising wealth gap in the world's second-largest economy.
(Reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)