According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), outdoor air pollution caused 3.7 million premature deaths in 2012, China having the largest share. Some 1.2 million premature deaths in the country could be attributed to the outdoor air quality in 2010, a loss of some 25 million healthy years according to the Global Burden of Disease Study, published by The Lancet. It also published that a surge in car use in South and East Asia killed 2.1 million people prematurely in 2010. The New York Times reports that "ambient particulate matter pollution" was the number four cause of death in China, behind dietary risks, high blood pressure and smoking.
According to WHO, road transport accounted for 50% of the cost of the health impacts of air pollution – both death and illness – in OECD countries in 2010 which was close to $1 trillion. In China pollution from traffic is probably also responsible for 50% of the deaths and injuries from air pollution. With the rapid growth of traffic in developing countries such as China and India, WHO finds that air pollution has outpaced the adoption of tighter vehicle emission standards.
The Chinese government is now spending billions of dollars to solve their trillion dollar problem. Many orders for pure electric buses at the $0.5 billion level have been placed in the last year and XALT in the USA has received a $1 billion order for advanced lithium-ion traction batteries for one bus manufacturer in China. See the new report from IDTechEx Research, “Electric Buses 2015-2025” (www.IDTechEx.com/buses).
Wisely, the Chinese government has banned two-stroke two-wheel vehicles, removed millions of the worst polluting cars and other vehicles from its roads and declared that taking the electric bus or train will be a major part of the answer. It does not see the river of 140 million electric bikes and scooters used to get to work in China as a primary part of the solution. They often flow against the direction of traffic and up over sidewalks causing accidents and extra congestion. Many Chinese cities have either banned or severely restricted e-bikes, the market has eased back and the number of manufacturers of them has collapsed from 3000 to under one thousand with almost all of those losing money in sharp contrast to the rapidly increasing number of companies making electric buses.