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Costs and Benefits of Reduced Sulfur Fuels in China

Clean air Fuels
Emissions control

Motorized road transportation in China is growing at an incredible pace. The number of passenger cars in China more than doubled between 2000 and 2005, and fleets of large and small trucks, as well as motorcycles, posted similar gains.

While this exponential growth is a result and indicator of China’s strong economy and rising standard of living, it carries with it a host of environmental and social challenges, including the growing toll that air pollution is taking on the health and well-being of the Chinese people. In 2005, 211 cities exceeded the second level of Chinese standards for particulate matter, intended to protect public health, and in 29 of these cities, particle concentrations exceeded the third level, indicating very serious air pollution.

Responding to this public health imperative, the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) of China is requiring new light- and heavy-duty vehicles to meet increasingly stringent emissions standards in the coming years. These regulations will help allay the mounting human health impacts of increasing vehicle numbers but their air quality and public health benefits will not be fully realized until China adopts corresponding low sulfur standards for gasoline and diesel fuels.

It is within this context that the International Council on Clean Transportation and Tsinghua University undertook a cost-benefit analysis of cleaner fuels and improved vehicle standards in China. The analysis, done in cooperation with the China State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), is intended to help evaluate the benefits of current and future regulatory programs for vehicles and fuels.