In recent years, China has become the car capital of the world. It buys and sells more cars than any other country and its rate of car ownership is on an exponential rise.
That means China has a major influence on the world’s car manufacturers, who want to keep supplying this behemoth market. Which makes China’s latest announcement especially beneficial for the environment.
In the near future, China plans to fully ban sales of petroleum and diesel powered cars.
Xiu Guobin, China’s deputy minister of industry and IT, said at an automotive forum over the weekend that the ministry has begun mapping out what this ban would look like.
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China has made significant strides in the adoption of electric vehicles and supporting infrastructure in recent years, and fully electric highways and streets could be on the horizon.
The country sold around 507,000 plug-in electric vehicles in 2016, according to Mashable, and many more hybrid vehicles were sold.
To make it easier to own an electric vehicle, China plans to have 800,000 charging stations established throughout the country by the end of the year.
The US, by comparison, has around 16,000 electric charging stations, and a total of 44,000 private charging plugs, which include private outlets.
China still has a long way to go to overcome the dominance of traditional vehicles. The country sold more than 28 million cars in 2016, the vast majority of which depend on fossil fuels.
But the shift to fully electric vehicles is part of China’s broader sustainability mission.
During the past several years, the country has become the de facto leader in renewable energy sources.
China is by far the biggest source of solar energy and the biggest investor in the world, with $103 billion in additional investments currently planned. It’s also the biggest producer of and investor in wind energy.
The country’s push toward sustainability is driven in part by its commitments under the Paris climate agreement and an appreciation of the threat of climate change.
But it’s also driven by the lived experience of its citizens, who struggle with some of the worst air pollution in the world.
Ridding the streets of cars that leak fumes into the atmosphere will go a long way toward making the air easier to breathe.