Tuesday, June 30, 2009

china daily questions official air quality statistics

The story about the US Embassy's BeijingAir air quality twitter feed (whose subscribers now top 2,200) was picked up by the China Daily today. Perhaps surprisingly, the China Daily article uses the embassy data to question whether the Beijing EPB's official data present an accurate view of Beijing's air quality:
China Daily calculated that only five days were above "moderate" level in May on BeijingAir, but the local environment bureau said on its website on May 31 that the capital's air quality was the clearest during the same period since 2000, with 25 blue-sky days.
However, the article goes on to quote both an embassy official and a Chinese expert cautioning that the single station is not representative of Beijing's overall air quality:
"This is a single site," [US Embassy spokesperson Susan] Stevenson said. "It cannot be used to measure the air quality across the city. They can't be compared."
"The embassy is located in the central business district, which has heavy traffic, and its monitoring station cannot represent the overall picture," Zhu Tong, an environment professor with Peking University, said yesterday.
Signficantly, the China Daily article does not question whether or not the embassy data is valid for that area, only whether the single data point can be extrapolated out to the rest of the city. To me, this is an important distinction, because collective agreement that the embassy data is valid should ultimately help pressure the Beijing EPB to set up their own real-time PM2.5 monitors across the city (which is the direction we should be driving in).

The article closes with this comment, noteworthy for its open questioning of air quality data. Such questioning is rare in the Chinese state-run media:
Some residents expressed doubts about the official air quality data.

Wang Haiyan, a 36-year-old Beijinger living in Chaoyang district, said that even under a different measuring system, there is still no reason to get such different air quality results.
Within Chinese-language media, Xinhua's International Herald Leader (国际先驱导报) published a story two days ago (also printed with a different title in the Hong Kong-based Phoenix magazine (凤凰) here) on the US Embassy's air quality reporting; the story included this photo that is apparently of the monitor:

As one would expect, the tone of the Xinhua piece is much more defensive of the official data and critical of the embassy. Unfortunately, I don't have time now to write more on this; stay tuned tomorrow for some translation and commentary.

Monday, June 29, 2009

krugman's indictment of climate change deniers

Paul Krugman's column today is highly recommended. It is a scathing indictment of climate change deniers in the US Congress:
But if you watched the debate on Friday, you didn't see people who've thought hard about a crucial issue, and are trying to do the right thing. What you saw, instead, were people who show no sign of being interested in the truth. They don't like the political and policy implications of climate change, so they've decided not to believe in it — and they'll grab any argument, no matter how disreputable, that feeds their denial.
Because the overwhelming - and still increasing - scientific evidence demonstrates that climate change presents a "clear and present danger to our way of life, perhaps even to civilization itself," he calls the denial of climate change "irresponsible and immoral."

In an aside (and as an economist), he further bolsters his case with this zinger:
Given this contempt for hard science, I’m almost reluctant to mention the deniers’ dishonesty on matters economic. But in addition to rejecting climate science, the opponents of the climate bill made a point of misrepresenting the results of studies of the bill’s economic impact, which all suggest that the cost will be relatively low.
(Further info on the economic misrepresentation he mentions here and here.)

In the US-China climate debate, although there is still a lot to be settled, at the very least it seems that the top leadership of both nations agree on the core science of what is causing climate change and where we need to be - in terms of global emission reductions - by what date.

On this point, earlier this month, I was encouraged by what Todd Stern, the US' top climate negotiator, had to say when speaking at the Center for American Progress:
Q: I wonder if you might comment, in talking to Chinese officials, do you feel you're speaking on the basis of the same science?

MR. STERN: ...I have not had a sense that [the Chinese] are in some completely different place with respect to what the underlying science is...in terms of the overall kind of dynamics – where we're going, where need to go – I don't think it's a dramatically different assessment.
(Transcript here). Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the US' own legislature.

Friday, June 26, 2009

beijing epb responds to us embassy air quality twitter feed

A friend tipped me to an article in today's South China Morning Post (registration required) on the US Embassy's Beijing air quality twitter feed.

Although the majority of the content of the SCMP piece echoes that published last week in other sources, there is one important bit of new information:
Du Shaozhong, deputy director of Beijing's environment protection bureau, was unaware of the US embassy's move, but said: "Any attempts to question our figures with a single monitoring station are not authoritative enough."
This could get bad. Let's see if it gets picked up by other media and begins to escalate.

FYI, the twitter feed has around 1600 followers now (up from 300 just a week ago).

Monday, June 22, 2009

us embassy outed as source of beijingair twitter feed

On Friday of last week, Time's Austin Ramzy outed the BeijingAir twitter feed as being set up and administered by the US Embassy:
The U.S. Embassy operates a single station in eastern Beijing that records levels of PM2.5, fine particles considered particularly dangerous to human health...

While the U.S. doesn't actively promote the information, it has slowly been getting more attention from Beijing residents concerned about the city's air quality. "The U.S. Embassy has an air quality monitor to measure PM 2.5 particulates on the Embassy compound as an indication of air quality," says Susan Stevenson, a State Department spokesperson. "This monitor is a resource for the health of the Embassy community." She cautions that citywide analyses cannot be done from a single machine, but because the embassy has the data available, it makes it available to others.
Before the story came out, there were around 300 followers of the feed; now there are more than 1,100 and rising fast.

Beijing experienced some bizarre and extremely rapid changes in air quality on Thursday and Friday of last week. On both days, BeijingAir reported maximum pollution levels (hazardous air, AQI = 500) for brief periods in the afternoon. However, hazardous air was never reported by either the Beijing EPB or MEP, presumably because the pollution spikes on both days were short-lived enough that the overall 24-hour averages evened out as just "light pollution." (More discussion here and here.)

Here's a graph showing BeijingAir and MEP-reported air quality over the period noon Tuesday to midnight Sunday last week. Because MEP has no system for real-time reporting, the extreme pollution spikes on the 18th and 19th were never truly reflected in MEP's air quality data:

The events of last week highlight the need for real-time reporting of air quality in Beijing. I wonder if the growing popularity of the embassy's twitter feed will ratchet up pressure on MEP / Beijing EPB to implement such a system here in Beijing.

Final note: the speed of the drop in pollution levels during the afternoon of 6/19 was stunning. With no technical background in air quality modeling or meteorology, I have no idea how this is even possible:

Friday, June 19, 2009

more info on beijing's 6/18 air quality

Yesterday, beginning at around 10am, there was a sudden and dramatic spike of air pollution here in Beijing. I blogged about it here, and it was covered in the Guardian and Time's blog, with surely more to come. The pollution spike lasted until close to midnight yesterday. I presume yesterday evening's rain is what ended the event, although it should be noted that, as I write this, the pollution seems to be creeping up again.

Yesterday's pollution spike may be seen very clearly in the BeijingAir tweeted hourly data over the past couple of days. Shown here are PM2.5 concentration and AQI:

Note the missing data points in the afternoon of 6/18 and the maxing out of AQI at 500 during the same period.

Despite yesterday afternoon's stifling pollution, MEP's officially reported Air Pollution Index (API) for 6/18 was just 104 - indicating "slightly polluted" air quality. The reason, as noted yesterday, is that MEP's API does not report real-time air quality; it is an average air quality indicator covering noon to noon beginning from the previous day. Therefore, we wouldn't expect the afternoon pollution spike of 6/18 to show up until the 6/19 reported data point.

However, the API for 6/19, which was released a few minutes ago, is just 159 ("lightly polluted"), which is significantly lower than I would have expected.

Edit: An API of 159 - corresponding to a PM10 concentration of 266 ug/m^3 - still represents awful air quality, despite my use of the word "just." China's daily/yearly goals for PM10 are 150/100 ug/m^3, while the WHO's recommended targets are 50/20 ug/m^3.

The following graph shows MEP PM10 and API data, as well as BeijingAir PM2.5 and AQI data, for the last few days. Note that the absolute magnitudes of the BeijingAir and MEP data are not directly comparable due to slightly different measurements and scales. But the trending should be the same:

Although the MEP data increases beginning noon on 6/18, as one would expect, the increase just doesn't seem commensurate with the seemingly atrocious pollution yesterday afternoon and evening.

What's going on here? Well, there are a few options, but I'm not sure which one is correct:

First - it's theoretically possible that, because MEP averages over 24 hours over a number of different monitoring stations, the overnight reduction combined with lower pollution outside the city center brought the overall average down. Here is the daily individual monitor data from the Beijing EPB:

There are certainly some high readings, e.g. Dongsi, but there are also some that report only half as bad (Pinggu, Miyun).

Second - it is possible that the BeijingAir monitor is either not calibrated correctly or suffered some unusual activity (e.g. a car idling for an extended period outside the monitor). This seems unlikely.

Third - I'm not sure if this is correct or not, but it may be possible that the pollution event was largely PM2.5 - particles of diameter smaller than 2.5 microns - that do not register in the EPB's monitoring stations designed to measure PM10. Can anyone comment on this?

Fourth - I don't think I need to write this option explicitly.

More info as I learn it.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

air in beijing hazardous

BeijingAir is currently reporting hazardous air quality in Beijing (there was an error in the most recent hour, but you can see the PM2.5 concentration slowly creeping up over the course of the morning and early afternoon):

Note, though, that with the AQI maxed out at 500, the air quality is theoretically worse than "hazardous," whatever that might be.

On the other hand, MEP is reporting an API today of 104, "slightly polluted."

A few people have asked me about this blatant discrepancy, so here's a brief comment:

It's important to remember that MEP's reported API for 6/18/09 is actually an average API for the period noon to noon 6/17 to 6/18. Given that this current pollution spike seems to have rolled in over the course of the late morning and early afternoon, it is reasonable that the impact has not yet registered in the MEP reported data. From the perspective of MEP's official reporting, we will have to wait until around 2pm tomorrow to see the results of this episode.

Of course, this discrepancy highlights the necessity of working towards a system of real-time air quality reporting (like the AIRNow program in the US) in Chinese cities. (More on this in another post.)

Final note: during my time in Beijing (3.5 years), I've only experienced a handful of days in which MEP reported a 500 API. The most recent ones were 12/28/2007 and 12/12/2006, plus a few during the sandstorm season of the spring of 2006. I am curious to know if tomorrow will yield another.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

symmetric characters

This is an off-topic post continuing in an occasional series on Chinese character esoterica.

As an engineer, I am a bit obsessed with the structures and patterns of individual Chinese characters.

Recently (don't ask how), I stumbled upon the character , and it got me thinking about symmetry within characters. Specifically, how many characters out there are symmetric across both the x and y-axes? Here are the ones I could think of:


I'm sure there's more out there; anyone think of any?

Lastly, this exercise reminds me of a Chinese character riddle a colleague once shared with me: starting from 日, by adding one stroke, you can make 9 different characters. Can you think of them all?

Monday, June 8, 2009

how clean were april and may?

This past spring, the months of April and May in Beijing were reported as the cleanest April / May in a decade. (Sources for April: China Daily and Beijing EPB, see also my previous post; sources for May: Xinhua and Beijing EPB.)

Independent of the quantitative results, these reports seem to confirm what a lot of people have been mentioning to me, that this past spring has seemed surprisingly clean.

Let's evaluate the truth in all of this. The following graph shows average API*, average PM10 concentration, and number of Blue Sky Days for the period April-May from 2005 through 2009:

From these numbers, the results are pretty clear: the period April-May 2009 in Beijing was indeed significantly better in terms of air quality than the same period in any of the previous four years. (I could have looked farther back, but I decided only to look at five years total for this analysis.)

Here are some comparisons of 2009 vs 2005-2008 averages:

I think it's probably fair to say that the air quality this April and May was 30-40% better than the average air quality during the same period over the previous four years.

As usual, we should celebrate the progress while being mindful of the significant improvements still required. My calculated average PM10 concentration for this period, 117 ug/m^3, is still well above China's annual target (100 ug/m^3) and well well above the WHO's ideal target for developed nations (20 ug/m^3). It is also well above my estimate for the average PM10 concentration during last year's two-month Olympic period (79 ug/m^3).

Summary of Beijing's 2009 first quarter air quality
Summary of Beijing's 2008 air quality
Update on fall air quality in Beijing

*I don't really like averaging API, because it can lead to some misleading results (further discussion in this post), but despite that I still think it has value as an indicator here.

Friday, June 5, 2009

frozen in time - beijingair twitter feed shows exact hour twitter was blocked in china

The BeiingAir automatic Twitter feed is stuck at 6/2, 4:00pm, just before Twitter was blocked in China.

I'm working on some analysis for another post related to the BeijingAir Twitter feed, which automatically tweets hourly PM2.5 concentrations at a single station in Beijing.

In looking at the data just now, though, I realized that it hasn't updated since June 2nd at 4:00pm, shortly before Twitter was harmonized in China.

It may be just a robotic scientific instrument (a Met One Bam 1020), but don't you think it still had its feelings hurt? Let's all hope for a prompt release of Twitter so Bam can get back to doing what it does best.

Update 6/8/09: Twitter is back, and so is the feed:

Looks like Twitter was officially blocked for 5 days, 22 hours...

excellent summaries of status of us-china climate change negotiations

Last week, describing US-China negotiations related to climate change, Rep. Edward Markey quipped, “This is going to be on one of the most complex diplomatic negotiations in the history of the world.”

The netisphere is grateful this week to the incredible series of posts from both Charlie McElwee of China Environmental Law and Julian Wong of the Green Leap Forward /Center for American Progress on this topic.

First up, Charlie's series on both China and the US' positions six months out from Copenhagen, including tremendous summaries of the diplomatic challenges as well as in-fighting going on within each country:

6/1: Copenhagen Countdown China's Climate Change Position
6/2: Copenhagen Countdown US' Climate Change Pposition
6/3: Copenhagen Countdown T-6 Months Wrap Up
6/4: No Climate Deal Without China

(Also recommended is his three-part series from February: US China Climate Change Engagement Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.)

Charlie's posts are so good, that having read them just before watching Todd Stern's talk Wednesday at CAP, I was left with the distinct feeling that I wish Mr. McElwee were the US' top climate negotiator instead of Mr. Stern...

Next, Julian's great work for CAP on exactly what China has been up to on the climate front:

6/3: Climate Progress in China: A Primer on Recent Developments
6/4: China Begins Its Transition to a Clean Energy Economy

Like Charlie's posts, these are comprehensive summaries that - along with the myriad links contained within them - are recommended reading both for people just getting up to speed on these issues and those buried deep in them.

Lastly, I haven't posted too much on the US-China climate change negotiations largely because I think others out there (like Charlie and Julian) are already doing a terrific job. However, I did want to show one figure that I think is at the core of why this is such a diplomatic challenge. I like to call this this figure if you only look at one graph this year related to US-China climate negotiations, make it this one:

Source: the Asia Society's Roadmap for US-China Cooperation on Energy and Climate Change

This is an excellent figure, because it encompasses in parallel perhaps the three most important numbers (both absolute and relative) that matter for each country going into the US-China climate dialogue. It is critical that all three of these graphs be acknowledged simultaneously, because the selective ignoring of any one can drastically change one's perspective on who bears responsibility for acting and on what scale.

news to be positive about: PM2.5 and ozone monitoring coming soon; Pollution Transparency Index

Three recent air pollution-related news stories to be positive about:

1) China Daily: Tougher rules for air quality likely soon
China is mulling more stringent appraisal standards for air quality, and pilot projects are likely to start from coastal cities in the Yangtze River delta and Pearl River delta next year.

The environmental authorities are planning to include particles less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) and ozone, into the Air Pollution Index (API), which currently measures the concentration of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and PM10, or particles smaller than 10 microns.
This is terrific news. With the pressure of the Olympics off, I was beginning to think that MEP had forgotten about the comments they made last year on this topic. No dates given in the article, but still a positive sign.

2) China Daily: Pollution index up and running
China's first Pollution Information Transparency Index (PITI) has been officially launched and has published its first annual assessment of the pollution information disclosure performance of 113 Chinese cities for 2008.

The PITI, set up by the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) and the US-based Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), is part of efforts to strengthen public awareness and supervision of environmental issues and protection.
Here is the link to the index methodology and results (Chinese). Note that the index encompasses several types of pollution, not just air pollution. Although most cities scored rather poorly (Beijing overall scored 49.1 out of 100), it's still encouraging to see this index go public as a baseline for future comparison. It is also very encouraging to see this activity by NGOs reported in the Chinese media.

3) Xinhua: China's central environment authorities to open hotline for direct complaints
BEIJING, June 4 (Xinhua) -- People who have complaints about environmental pollution in China would have a direct way to inform the Ministry of Environmental Protection as the ministry opens a tip-off hotline on Friday, the International Environment Day.

The ministry said Thursday that the hotline, 010-12369, will take calls about emergency environment issues, cross-provincial pollution and other environmental issues that should be directly dealt with by the ministry.
A nice little green hop, I'd say (to borrow an expression from the Green Leap Forward).

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

unprecedented internet censorship within china

Yesterday, the buzz among netizens was the blocking of foreign-language social networking and media sites, including Flickr and Twitter, in addition to existing blocks on Youtube and Blogspot. Hotmail and live.com are also down.

Today, the net nanny turned to domestic Chinese sites, harmonizing a host of participatory Web 2.0 - blogging / microblogging / content generation / sharing, etc. - sites like Fanfou and Bullog.

However, unlike traditional blocks, in which trying to access a censored website simply yields a "failed to connect" or "connection interrupted" error message, these blocks are taking a different and new form: individual "maintenance" notices placed on the home page of each site. Each site's maintenance period has a definitive end point, unsurprisingly either June 5th or June 6th. Here is an example from Fanfou:

It seems some netizens have created a public spreadsheet tracking sites "under maintenance" (Chinese only), including the maintenance period dates for each site. It has been fascinating, frustrating, and depressing to watch the list grow in real time over the last hour or so. It will be even more fascinating to track Chinese reactions over the next couple of days.

At least one blogger is calling June 2nd GFW day (h/t Global Voices); in symbolism of being blocked I've changed the background of this blog to black. I'll revert back to white when and if blogspot is released within China.

new report shows widespread air quality data manipulation

Last fall, I wrote about Steven Andrews' report demonstrating data biasing in Beijing's air quality reporting.

The China Environment Forum has just published a second peer-reviewed report written by Mr. Andrews, this one detailing on a much larger scale the data manipulation present in air quality reporting across all of China. Mr. Andrews' overall conclusion is as follows:
Publicizing the API and where cities rank in terms of air quality keeps the public informed of air quality and potential health threats. However, misleading data presentation and revised laws have prevented the API system from accurately communicating air quality problems to the public.
Mr. Andrews' report focuses on several points, including:

1) SEPA's loosening of ambient air quality standards in 2000 artificially inflated the number of cities in compliance:
In 2006, the annual average NO2 concentration in Beijing was 66μg/m3 and in Guangzhou it was 67μg/m3 (BJEPB, 2007; GZEPB, 2007). Under the 1996 standards, Beijing and Guangzhou would have exceeded the annual average NO2 standard in 2006 by 65 percent and 67 percent, respectively. Under the revised standards, both were in compliance (SEPA, 2000).
(Note: link to old standards here; link to new standards here; discussion and comparison to international standards here.)

2) The assignment of 100 as the cut-off point for a "Blue Sky Day," coupled with rising pressure for cities to meet increasing numbers of annual Blue Sky Days, has encouraged the "bumping" of API data just above 100 to just below. Mr. Andrews writes:
Although the establishment of “Blue Sky” targets and well-publicized tallies of the number of days meeting the national standard has resulted in an easily understood metric for air quality, it strongly appears that pollution levels near this boundary are being manipulated in many major cities.
This was one of his core findings in his previous report on Beijing alone. In this report, Mr. Andrews expands the analysis to many more Chinese cities. The table below shows 30 cities which reported above 90% of all API values within the range 96-105 as 100 or below in a given year. (Statistically, one would expect around 50% of data points in this range to be on either side of 100.)3) The moving of monitoring stations within cities has artificially inflated air quality:
Although there has been a reported 10.8 percent decrease in Beijing’s annual average NO2 level between 1998 and 2006, the two stations in traffic areas have reported annual average NOx concentrations 100 percent higher than the non-traffic stations (BJEPB, 1998). This indicates that all the reported decrease in NO2 concentrations in Beijing from 1998-2006 may be due to the changing locations of monitoring stations.
4) Although not one of Mr. Andrews' key conclusions, one of his smaller but fascinating findings is that, apparently, there was a mistake in the English-language version of MEP's website regarding how to calculate API. This is something I never realized, but has apparently wreaked some havoc in international data analyses of air quality in China:
Although the calculation methodologies to go from API values to pollutant concentrations are straightforward, an error in the sample calculation on the MEP website has lead to misunderstandings of the true severity of pollution levels—inaccuracies that have been replicated in several leading reports on air pollution in China.
It seems that MEP has since removed the English explanation of API calculation, so I'm not sure what this error was; I'll keep digging and see if I can find out more.


Similar to Mr. Andrews' September 2008 report, this report is a scathing indictment and well-supported criticism of MEP's air quality data quality and transparency. It highlights a number of issues that MEP - as well as city and provincial-level EPBs - should ideally work quickly to resolve in order to regain international trust and credibility.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

twitter and flickr blocked

56minus1 reports that Twitter and Flickr are both blocked now in mainland China. Youtube and Blogspot (including this blog) remain blocked as well.

FYI, Herdict is a site that allows for user-reported web censorship across the globe; the China page is here.

Update 6/3/09: The New York Times is now reporting on the increased censorship:
BEIJING — China’s government censors have begun to block access to the Internet services Twitter, Hotmail and Microsoft's live.com, broadening an already extraordinary effort to shield its citizens from any hint of Thursday's 20th anniversary of the military crackdown that ended the 1989 T i a n a n m e n Square pro-democracy movement.

shanzhai euro V

This is one of those "only in China" stories.

In my last post, I mentioned how surprised I was to see an "欧V" label on the back of a tour bus in Beijing:

欧V universally means Euro V tailpipe emission standard; the strong implication here is that this vehicle meets that very strict standard. Similarly, here is a label on a (different brand) bus showing that it meets Euro IV (欧IV, the current standard in Beijing) emission standard:

However, I just learned from my colleague that the "欧V" label on the white bus does not have anything to do with tailpipe emission standard. Rather, the bus model is simply called 欧V, with the V meaning the letter "V," not the roman numeral for 5. The website for the bus, made by Foton, is here. In English they call it model AUV:

Although it appears that the bus is available in some alternative energy configurations like hybrid - which is commendable for many reasons - even the hybrid apparently only meets the Euro IV tailpipe emission standard: 污染物排放再[sic]欧III基础上减少30%,达到欧IV同等水平 (pollutant emissions are 30% lower than the Euro III level, meeting Euro IV equivalent).

Hmm. A bus called 欧V than only meets the 欧IV emission standard? Sounds like shanzhai to me.

Monday, June 1, 2009

vehicle environmental labeling

This post is about vehicle environmental labeling in China.

Mandatory Tailpipe Emissions Labeling

There is currently no national environmental labeling program based on tailpipe emissions (although MEP has proposed one that will hopefully be issued sometime this year).

However, many cities in China require their own vehicle environmental label, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Qingdao, Nanjing, and more.

In Beijing specifically, environmental labeling by tailpipe emission standard has been required since, I believe, 1999. The latest formal document about the label is this one from 2004: 北京市环境保护局关于启用新版机动车环保标志的通知 ("Beijing EPB notice on use of new version of vehicle environmental label").

This document specifies that green labels are given to gasoline vehicles meeting Euro I or higher and diesel vehicles meeting Euro III or higher tailpipe emission standard. It's unusual that the document uses the Euro (欧) nomenclature as opposed to the standard China (国) term used in other tailpipe emission standards; I'm not sure why.

Although I couldn't find a formal document specifying this, I also know that gasoline vehicles are further differentiated by stars, with one star for China I, two stars for China II and China III w/o OBD, three stars for China III w/OBD, and four stars for China IV. There is no star differentiation for diesel vehicles. Here's an example:

Beijing environmental label (green). The four stars indicate that this gasoline vehicle meets the China IV emission standard.

In the States, I know that California has a smog label, but I'm not sure of anywhere else that in the United States that requires environmental labeling for anything other than fuel economy.

Voluntary Tailpipe Emissions Labeling

In addition to the mandatory tailpipe emissions label, I am also surprised and fascinated by how many voluntary, manufacturer-suppled tailpipe emission standard labels I come across in China. I can't think of anything comparable in the States; a vehicle's tailpipe emission standard there just doesn't seem to be a selling point or something to boast about with a fancy label. Here are some examples I've seen in China:

Euro III (欧III) back window label on a small gasoline van.

China III (国III) + OBD (on-board diagnostics) back window label on a small gasoline van.

EuroIV (欧IV) label on the back of a diesel public bus.

Euro IV (欧IV) back window label on a small gasoline van.

Euro V (欧V) label on a diesel tour bus. This was very surprising to me.
Update 6/2/09: Apparently this bus model is simply called 欧V, with the V being a letter, not intended to be the roman number for 5. More info in a follow up post here.

The same "Euro V" bus gets zero stars on the city label because the diesel labels have no star differentiation.

Mandatory Fuel Economy Labeling

According to GB22757-2008, cars in China will be required to display fuel economy labels beginning 7/1/2009. I will try to post a lengthier post once it goes into force. In the meantime, here is what the label will look like:

For comparison, here is the current United States fuel economy label:

platinum LEED habitat houses in portland

Although this post is off-topic for this blog, I wanted to feature a cool story about what are expected to be the first two platinum LEED certified Habitat for Humanity houses in Oregon.

From OregonLive.com:
Forty percent more efficient than houses built to code, the homes are on target to achieve platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification from the U.S. Green Building Council -- the highest rating available. They will be the first LEED platinum Habitat homes in Oregon and two of only a handful nationally.
I feature the project here for a couple of reasons. First, it's an incredibly impressive story demonstrating how committed individuals, with the support of the community, can create something that is simultaneously sustainable, accessible, and elegant.

Second, and more importantly for me personally, the house was designed by one of my best friends, architect Scott Mooney.
The homes grew out of a design contest for young architects just out of university...The challenge: Design a LEED-certified duplex on a lot owned by Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East.

Scott Mooney and David Posada jumped at the opportunity.

The two friends had graduated from the University of Oregon's master's degree program in 2005 and are building careers -- Mooney at THA Architecture and Posada at GBD Architects -- with strong emphasis on sustainability and affordability.

"Basically, David and I are interested in accessible design, something anyone can do," Mooney said. "The danger of a competition is they're very creative but often not very realistic.

"We tried to keep it feasible."

The two won the contest. But more exciting to them, the nonprofit wanted to build their design.
Way to go, Smooney!