Smoggy China to Observe World Car Free Day

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The Financial Times reports that China's cities will participate in this year's World Car Free Day. These actions have a measureable effect. A recent study found that when Beijing ordered 800,000 cars off the roads for three days last year, local nitrogen oxide air pollution fell by 40 per cent.

More than 100 Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai are to take part in the country's first official urban "car-free day", barring automobiles from selected areas and ordering officials to swap their black sedans for public transport.

The decision to join other urban centres around the world in holding "no car" events on September 22 is a reflection of growing concerns about congestion, pollution and global warming that are clouding China's passionate love affair with the automobile.

In a report on the planned car-free day, the official Xinhua news agency said Beijing - where traffic jams are already a daily occurrence - was adding 1,000 new private cars a day, and that transport accounted for 20 per cent of society's total energy consumption. The government news agency said 106 cities had signed formal pledges to take part in the car-free day and an associated week-long promotion of public transport.

"City government leaders must set an example in taking part in this activity by going to work by public transport, walking or riding bicycles," Xinhua said.

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