Business / Auto Policy

Be careful 'legalizing' car bans

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-12-31 10:52

While discussing draft revisions to the Air Pollution Law at last week's national legislative session, lawmakers harshly criticized an article attempting to pave the legal foundation for the current administrative car ban. They proposed deleting or changing sections of the article, which would give local governments the right to issue bans. Even if it remains in the law, compensation for infringed rights should be clarified.

In reality, the current law allows temporary traffic bans for "special occasions" including events, emergencies or poor weather. The current law is respectful of people's rights, whereas making the temporary administrative order a routine practice would overly restrict rights to property and the road.

More importantly, the government should prefer economic measures to bans in combating air pollution, such as raising emission standards and increasing the cost of car use through parking fees.

The decentralization of education and medical centers as well as the re-balancing of the industrial layout are also keys to tackling the congestion, rather than restrictions on vehicles.

Citing PM 2.5 readings recorded in early November when Beijing hosted the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings, atmosphere expert Zhang Xiaoye said only ten percent of the pollution reduction came from the odd-and-even license plate vehicle restriction adopted temporarily by the city. The rest was the result of cuts in coal burning in neighboring regions.

Excessive use of "unclean" energy, not vehicle emissions, is the main contributor to the recurrent smog.

Efforts to legalize car restrictions need an open consultation process to fully protect people's rights. Local government should be armored with legal minds and respectful of the rule of law.


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