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Beijing: A Day to Use Public Transport

Tens of thousands of white-collar workers in Beijing will leave their cars in the garage for the next four days.

The move is to ease traffic congestion and improve air quality.

The "green commuter" commitment was made yesterday by a number of industry associations, and has won wide support locally and abroad.

It was endorsed by the China association for small and medium-sized enterprises, China Electricity Council, European Chamber of Commerce, British Chamber of Commerce, American Chamber of Commerce and Beijing Electronics Chamber of Commerce.

Sponsored by the US-based Environmental Defense and others, the commitment highlights a company's responsibility for clean air.

Michael O'Sullivan, secretary-general of the European Chamber of Commerce, said a "no-driving" proposal letter was sent to more than 500 of its members in Beijing.

"It was good to get positive feedback from the members," he said.

The event is considered a key way to find out to what extent air quality is affected by the number of vehicles.

Eighty-nine car clubs in the city have launched a campaign to encourage 1 million of its members to follow the green commuters commitment.

More than 200,000 private car owners have promised not to drive during the four days.

Much of Beijing's pollution is caused by vehicle emissions.

China Daily has learnt a tradable emission rights policy is to be adopted in Beijing by the end of the year.

A source from the China Beijing Equity Exchange said assessment system is being prepared.

Du Shaozhong, deputy director of the Beijing environmental watchdog, said controling the number of vehicles is a way to allow the public to gauge the relationship between personal resources and the social resources.

"If everyone wants to grab more resources and personal convenience, what will be left for the society?" he said.

Beijing had 3.06 million registered vehicles by the end of last month. And the city is seeing an increase of about 1,000 vehicles everyday.

The city is exposed to about 1.3 million tons of pollutants consisting of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides every year, all discharged by vehicles.

As part of efforts to cut vehicle emissions before the Olympic Games, vehicles with odd and even license plates will alternately be allowed on the roads for the next four days, staring from today.

(China Daily August 17, 2007)

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