Beijing Smog by Flickr user michaelhenley
Smog-choked Chinese capital Beijing will be the first city in the country to introduce a new pollution tax.
Following months of pollution far above safe levels, major Chinese cities have scrabbled to find a solution for improving air quality.
Gasgoo reports Beijing will introduce a new tax this year, added to the cost of fuel, to dissuade drivers from using their cars quite as much, hopefully reducing pollution levels.
The city currently charges a base 17 percent tax rate for every liter of gas. To this, a fixed tax of one yuan ($0.16) is added, as well as a 0.07 percent urban construction tax and 0.03 percent education tax.
With the pollution tax included, each liter of gas will include ten yuan in taxes, or $1.62 per liter ($6.13 per gallon).
With the current taxes, a liter of gas costs around 8 yuan, or around $1.30 ($4.92/gal)--so it's easy to see how much the price of gas will increase by.
Should trials prove successful, similar taxes will be rolled out across other Chinese cities.
The city is also replacing 44,000 coal-burning heaters with cleaner alternatives, as smog levels reached dangerously high levels over winter. Readings on the U.S. Embassy's particulate matter scale were literally off the charts--estimates putting particulate emissions another 50 percent over the "hazardous" rating.
It remains to be seen whether heavier taxes will dissuade Beijing car owners from driving quite as much, but it's certainly a step in the right direction for one of the world's most polluted cities.