The EPA has since 2017 provided subsidies to expedite the phase-out of old diesel vehicles to reduce air pollution. By the end of June 2020, a total of 37,966 diesel vehicles of phases 1 to 3 had been replaced, resulting in cutting down 51,755 metric tons of pollutants. And with the subsidization program to phase out old motorcycles implemented since 2015, 1,230,947 motorcycles in total including two-stroke types had been replaced between June 2017 and June 2020. Such a measure has led to the reduction of 23,747 metric tons of pollutants. The combined result is equivalent to 1.3 times of Chiayi County’s total air pollution emission in 2016.
The subsidy programs will continue to be implemented to encourage the replacement of old vehicles. For diesel vehicles, the policy is to lower the price of new vehicles and reduce owners’ burden at the same time. Each diesel vehicle can receive a subsidy of up to NT$1.05 million. The EPA says that replacing old motorcycles with new electric motorcycles or phase-7 gas ones can enjoy an early-bird subsidy of NT$5,000 before the end of this year. Next year the subsidy will drop to NT$3,000, the EPA advises.
Analysis of data from all traffic monitoring stations showed that PM2.5 concentration continued to go down year after year, dropping 28% between 2014 and 2019. Random inspections of diesel vehicles conducted by the county and city environmental bureaus have revealed that noncompliance rate went down from 6.1% in 2014 to 4.2% in 2019. And regular motorcycle inspections showed that the average hydrocarbons (HCs) and carbon monoxide (CO) pollution were also going down gradually, dropping 76% and 36%, respectively. All these figures have shown that vehicle pollution emissions have been improving gradually over the years.
To cope with the impact brought by the coronavirus, the EPA, together with relevant enterprises, has postponed the subsidy deadline for replacing large diesel vehicles from 10 December 2020 to 10 December 2021. Additionally, the EPA also revised and announced the Mobile Pollution Source Air Pollutant Emissions Standards (移動污染源空氣污染物排放標準) on 27 July 2020 to postpone the deadline by six months for manufacturing, producing, and importing phase 5 new gas and small diesel vehicles. All these were done to lessen the impact of the pandemic on the industry.
Many environmental groups have offered suggestions on subsidy schemes for both electric motorcycles and phase-7 gas motorcycles. Pollution emissions are 19.39g/km for phase-4 gas motorcycles, 0.12gg/km for phase-7 motorcycles, and 0.01g/kg for electric motorcycles. That means an impressive 99.38% or 99.95% pollution reduction can be achieved respectively by replacing phase-4 motorcycles with phase-7 or electric motorcycles. In addition, the government must take into account the insufficiency of charging stations and other infrastructures in remote areas and the poor performance of electric motorcycles when going uphill in mountainous areas to come up with a fair subsidy program. The EPA expressed that it would reevaluate these programs in the future as they are only transitional policies.
The EPA pointed out that phase-7 gas motorcycles have much lower air pollutant emission than phase-6 ones but still perform as well in other aspects. Phase-7 motorcycles were originally scheduled to be launched on 1 January 2021, but at the government’s request, the industry produced them earlier and phase-7 motorcycles were already on the market by the end of 2019. Currently, there are a total of 63 models produced by five Taiwanese brands which consumers can choose from.
The EPA pointed out that phase-out is not compulsory as vehicles can be used if they comply with the emission standards when they come out of the factory, but their pollution emission can still impact air quality and people’s health. Therefore, the EPA will continue to implement the assistance and subsidy measures, and strengthen the inspection and control of high-polluting vehicles.
Excerpt from Environmental Policy Monthly, 23 (8)
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)