BEIJING, Feb 22, 2008 (AFP) - The port city of Tianjin has joined neighbouring Beijing in the fight to clean the air for the Olympics by cutting vehicle traffic in half, state media reported Friday.
The industrial city of 10 million people 100 kilometres (60 miles) southeast of Beijing is hosting part of the Olympic football tournament and has built a brand new stadium for use during the Games.
The city's Daily News said Tianjin plans to adopt an even, odd vehicle number plate system that will allow only half of all cars to be on the streets on the same day and will also ban construction work on sites close to Olympic venues.
Pollution has emerged as a major problem ahead of the August 8-24 Games and Beijing has appealed to nearby cities and provinces, including Tianjin, to join the effort to improve air quality during the Games.
Scientists say that pollution from heavily industrialised surrounding areas is responsible for much of Beijing's air quality problems.
Meanwhile state media said that Beijing is taking additional steps on its own aimed at improving air quality during the Games.
Major polluting industries such as the Beijing Chemical Corp, Beijing Dongfang Petrochemical Corp and the Huadian Coal Fire Electricity Co have been ordered to shut down operations by the end of June, the Beijing News said.
The closures come after the city shut down 40 polluting factories last year, it said.
"The tasks of bringing environmental pollution and traffic congestion under control remain arduous," Beijing mayor Guo Jinlong said in a speech to the city's legislature in January.
Public satisfaction with the environment remains lower in Beijing than nearly all other areas of China despite Olympic clean-up efforts, state media said last month, citing an official survey.
The Beijing News added that the city will also remove 2,300 older vehicles belonging to government departments and upgrade another 2,600 official vehicles with better emission controls.
Up to 1,500 older polluting buses and 2,000 taxis will also be removed from service in the coming months, while all diesel burning construction transport vehicles -- often cited as the city's worst polluters -- will be required to meet upgraded emission standards, it said.