A retrospective review of China’s Clean Diesel Program

Since the 1980s, China has implemented a series of policies and regulations to address harmful diesel emissions, and this report is a comprehensive overview of the best practices emerging from the Clean Diesel Program. It provides a foundation for understanding potential areas where China could further reduce diesel engine pollution in the future and could be useful in other parts of the world facing similar problems.

After providing a high-level overview of the historical evolution of China’s Clean Diesel Program, the authors describe each of the policies and measures that are part of it. The programs and measures covered are focused on mobile sources, including on-road diesel vehicles, off-road machinery, and shipping vessels, and on diesel fuel quality. As shown in the figure below, China’s efforts to address diesel pollution can be considered to have had three substantive stages before the current period. The earliest, which continued through the late 1990s, included the country’s first vehicle emission standard and Clean Air Law, and the second was one of rapid development, including more advanced emission standards and a new Ministry of Environmental Protection. More recently, from 2013 to 2020, there was focus on key issues such as a diesel fuel quality standard, in-use vehicle standards, and compliance and enforcement.