More than 200,000 members of Beijing's driving associations are being asked to leave their cars at home at least one day a month in the hope of improving air quality in the capital city.
More than 100 Beijing-based drivers' clubs jointly launched the campaign on Monday calling on local drivers not to use their cars for at least one day every month. They goal is to ease traffic jams, reduce noise and improve air quality.
"I love driving, but I'm willing to make my contribution for more blue sky days in Beijing and for myself," said Lu Chuan, a film director and a former environmental ambassador who helped raise public awareness of pollution issues in China.
Lu said he planned to make improvements to his car to make it more environmentally-friendly. He also plans to ride his bicycle and walk more often in the future.
There are more than 2.6 million motor vehicles in Beijing and the number is increasing by more than 1,000 a day, said Du Shaozhong, deputy head of Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau. Motor vehicle emissions is the leading cause of Beijing's air pollution, Du said. According to the city's environment department research, Beijing's vehicles spew out 3,600 tons of pollution each day.
The "no car day" campaign comes as Beijing tries to achieve 238 "blue sky days", or days with fairly good air quality this year, five days more than last year.
Beijing launched the program called "Defending the Blue Sky" in 1998, when the city had only 100 days of blue sky.
While the city has seen a dramatic increase in the number of Blue Sky days by moving industry from the city and more stringent vehicle emission requirements, it still faces many challenges to improve its air quality. Most challenges focus air pollution caused by motor vehicles.
The city has removed 4,000 old polluting buses and 30,000 cabs from service this year and replaced them with vehicles meeting new, more rigid state emission standards.
The 'no car day' was first introduced by 34 French cities that jointly launched the world first "no cars day" on Sept. 22, 1998.
(Xinhua News Agency May 16, 2006)