Working Paper

Motor vehicle diesel fuel quality compliance and enforcement in China: A look at the status quo and international best practices

The China 6/VI vehicle emission standards are among the most stringent in the world for the post-2020 timeframe, but their success depends on several factors, including the quality of fuels available. While China’s fuel quality standards have been gradually strengthened since 2000, compliance remains a challenge in some regions and some private fuel stations are still supplying non-compliant diesel fuel. After an overview of the current state of motor vehicle diesel fuel quality compliance in China, this working paper summarizes international best practices and identifies specific policy approaches that could help China improve compliance and enforcement.

Experience and best practices from the United States, Japan, and the European Union show that it would be prudent for China to consider several actions, including (1) defining clear roles and responsibilities for regulatory agencies involved in setting and implementing fuel quality standards; (2) requiring that each party involved in the fuel market be registered and certified; and (3) placing presumptive liability on all parties in the supply chain—refiners, importers, and other fuel handlers—to make them liable for any violation found unless they establish an affirmative defense. All of this is important because better fuel quality both reduces pollutants from combustion directly and enables the use of exhaust aftertreatment technologies like diesel particulate filters.