China's government plans to take 6 million older, polluting vehicles off the road this year in an effort to revive stalled progress toward cleaning up smog-choked cities. The plan also calls for filling stations in Beijing, Shanghai, and other major cities to switch to selling only the cleanest grades of gasoline and diesel, according to a Cabinet statement issued yesterday. The order comes after China failed to meet official pollution-reduction goals for 2011-2013. The statement said vehicles registered before 2005 that fail to meet cleaner emissions standards will be "phased out," though it did not say how.
It called the country's environmental situation "extremely grim." China's major cities are smothered in eye-searing smog. The country has some of the world's strictest emissions standards, but authorities have refrained from enforcing them until now to avoid forcing older, pollution-belching trucks off the road and hurting small businesses. Yesterday's announcement suggests authorities have settled that conflict in favor of environmental protection. China has about 240 million vehicles on the road, and half are passenger cars. (Read more China stories.)