11:40 GMT20 February 2020
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    The Ministry of Public Security of China has unveiled that as of March, the country's auto ownership has reached 200 million, with total motor vehicle ownership, which includes cars, SUVs, trucks, vans, buses, commercial vehicles and freight motor road vehicles, numbering 300 million.

    The ministry's traffic management bureau said in a statement that 8.2 million motor vehicles were newly registered in the first quarter of this year, similar to the corresponding period in 2016.

    The population of licensed drivers has also increased fast.

    ​As of the end of March, the statement said, China has 320 million licensed motor vehicle drivers, up 2.65 percent from the previous quarter.

    Earlier in April, China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection announced the start of an intensified air pollution monitoring program in an effort to combat air pollution and "make the skies blue again."

    It will be aimed at cutting sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions by 3 percent and lowering the density of PM2.5. The measures include reducing coal use and car emissions, upgrading coal-fired power plants, encouraging the use of clean-energy vehicles and punishing government officials who ignore environmental guidelines or air pollution regulations in their designated areas.

    According to a survey conducted by the University of California, a total of 1.6 million people in China die annually from diseases caused by air pollution, which means some 4,000 deaths per day.

    In a separate effort, China's city of Nanjing is going to build two ‘vertical forest’ towers, with thousands of trees and other plants growing on their sides and roofs. The green walls and roofs of these buildings will help to clean the air in the city of over 8 million.

    ​The vertical-forest building will be covered in terraces that contain hundreds, or even thousands, of plants, forming a compact forest in the middle of urban areas, that help to clean dirty city air. Some 3,600 plants will cover the two buildings, the brainchild of Italian architect Stefano Boeri.

    The two towers will eat enough carbon dioxide to make 60 kilograms (132 pounds) of oxygen every day. The average person consumes about 140 liters (about.2 kilograms) of oxygen a day. Thus, the two buildings will offset the pollution created by an estimated 300 people.

    Nanjing is in 24th among Chinese cities for air pollution, according to Greenpeace. In some cities, such as Shijiazhuang, the air is far dirtier and is actually hazardous to humans.

    The towers are scheduled to be completed in 2018.

    air pollution, ownership, vehicle, automobile, China
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