Heavy pollution shrouds Shanghai's histo

With notoriously bad traffic and pollution, Shanghai may institute a congestion charge, similar to what's been seen in London and Singapore (and considered in San Francisco). The gist of congestion charging is that drivers are charged a small amount for entering a certain part of the city - in the UK, entering central London between 7:00 AM and 6:00 PM, Monday through Friday, costs drivers 10 pounds ($16.16).

But where London might have instituted the standards in a bid to cut down on traffic, Shanghai's ultimate goal is to curb its woeful pollution, particularly something called PM2.5, a dangerous type of particulate matter emitted by vehicles. The city is aiming to cut PM2.5 levels by 20 percent in 2017. "Vehicles are a big reason behind the increase in PM2.5 and pollution levels and this is an area of a lot of public concern. Heavy polluting vehicles is an area where we will strongly control," Gao Yiyi, of the Shanghai Municipal Transport and Port Authority, said at a departmental briefing, according to Bloomberg.

Shanghai will be the first city in China to institute a congestion charge. It was also the first city in the communist country to limit the number of new vehicles sold, via a license plate auction. While these may be small steps to curb the rampant pollution in Chinese cities, much of which can be attributed to the widespread burning of coal, here's hoping this move has a positive impact.