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Token action on State IV emission standards

China failed to enforce the State IV diesel emission standards on July 1, 2013 due to the country’s low-quality oil and fuel as well as lack of relevant equipment and facilities in support of the new standards.

But the country’s environmental watchdog, the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP), claims that State IV emission standards have been implemented on time in certain areas. A number of local governments have also announced that they have upgraded local standards accordingly.

The implementation of the new standards, however, is more of a token action by the MEP whose job is to help clean up worsening air pollution in China. But even in these isolated areas where State IV is reportedly in effect, realities prove different.

Take Weichai Power, one of China’s largest engine makers, as an example. The company’s production plan for July was 27,608 diesel engines, only 419 units of which were State IV compliant. This means most truck makers in China have not started volume production of State IV vehicles.

Except in major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou where fuel standards have been upgraded, diesel fuel in most regions are still State III or even the State II compliant. Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province, for example, has just recently upgraded diesel fuel from State II to State III. State IV diesel fuel will not be available until 2015.

Sinopec, one of China’s two oil tycoons, indicated that it would not be able to supply State IV diesel fuel to the whole country until 2015.

It is a good thing that the government finally decided to face market realities rather than trying to enforce a vehicle emission standard unsupported by the country’s refinery industry.

Even if the State IV standards were forced in, according to analysts, there would have been rampant actions to bypass the regulation through fake certificates and extensive lax in enforcement. The result would have been even worse: in addition to air pollution, the country’s hundreds of thousands of truckers would face the danger of damaging their trucks by using substandard diesel fuel.

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