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Beijing to Issue Fewer Car Licenses From Next Year

Beijing will reduce the number of car license plates it issues starting next year to help ease pollution and traffic congestion, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The city will disclose details of the new limit, currently capped at 240,000 a year, in November, Xinhua said yesterday, citing the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport. The city government said on Sept. 2 it won’t allow the car population to exceed 6 million vehicles by the end of 2017. Beijing had 5.2 million vehicles at the end of 2012, according to the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau.

China, the world’s biggest carbon emitter, is home to seven of the world’s 10 most polluted cities, according to a 2012 report by the Asian Development Bank. Air quality in Beijing reached hazardous levels for 20 days in January, according to U.S. Embassy readings, sparking public calls for government action.

“The pollution in the capital is heavy,” said Lin Huaibin, a Shanghai-based analyst with researcher IHS Automotive. “The government is pretty serious about dealing with it nowadays.”

Separately, Xinhua reported yesterday that Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli said Beijing needs to urgently improve air quality, control its number of vehicles and increase the number of what’s known in China as new-energy vehicles -- electric cars and hybrids -- to curb pollution.

Beijing introduced a license-plate lottery in January 2011, with a monthly quota of 20,000 new vehicle licenses. Non-transferable license plates are issued through a lottery system.

Three other cities, including Shanghai and Guangzhou, have vehicle ownership restrictions. Another eight cities, such as Wuhan and Tianjin, are also considering imposing restrictions, the state-backed China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said in July.

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