Tight pol­lu­tion con­trols af­fect ma­jor in­dus­tries

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICAS - By ZHANG YU and WANG WEI in Shi­ji­azhuang

Heavy in­dus­try in Tangshan, He­bei province, has been hit by ef­forts to con­trol air pol­lu­tion, with the value of its out­put drop­ping by 35.3 bil­lion yuan ($5.5 bil­lion) in the past two years, ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion.

That ac­counts for about 5.7 per­cent of the city’s GDP in 2014, ac­cord­ing to Tangshan’s bureau of sta­tis­tics.

Un­der­pres­sure to curbpol­lu­tion, the city has shut down 2,382 com­pa­nies in­volved in the iron, steel, ce­ment and cok­ing in­dus­tries.

It also lost 10 bil­lion yuan in less than 10 days due to stopped or re­stricted pro­duc­tion for 242 com­pa­nies dur­ing the Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion meet­ing held in Bei­jing last year.

Along with Tangshan, six other cities in­He­bei— Xing­tai, Han­dan, Shi­ji­azhuang, Baod­ing, Heng­shui and Lang­fang — were listed among the most-pol­luted cities in the coun­try.

In the face of se­ri­ous air pol­lu­tion, He­bei has been asked by the cen­tral gov­ern­ment to re­duce 60 mil­lion met­ric tons of iron and steel pro­duc­tion — 75 per­cent of the na­tion’s tar­get — and 61 mil­lion tons of ce­ment ca­pac­ity by the end of 2017, as well as 40 mil­lion met­ric tons of coal con­sump­tion.

In 2014, pro­duc­tion of about 15 mil­lion met­ric tons of iron and steel and 39 mil­lion tons of ce­ment was cut, and coal con­sump­tion was re­duced by 15 mil­lion tons.

As a re­sult, the av­er­age con­cen­tra­tion of PM2.5, air­borne pol­lu­tants with a di­am­e­ter of 2.5 mi­crons or less, de­creased by 12 per­cent in­He­bei last year.

Con­trol­ling air pol­lu­tion can help new sources of eco­nomic growth emerge.”

Some He­bei of­fi­cials have claimed the mea­sures have caused the econ­omy to slow down.

In 2014, the GDP of the province grew by 6.5 per­cent, lower than the na­tional 7.4 per­cent.

“The in­flu­ence of con­trol­ling air pol­lu­tion on the econ­omy ex­ists, but it’s very lim­ited, ” said Ge Chazhong, a re­searcher at the Chi­nese Academy for En­vi­ron­men­tal Plan­ning un­der theMin­istry of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to Ge, the pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity of these heavy in­dus­tries is still ex­ces­sive, and the uti­liza­tion rate of pro­duc­tive ca­pac­ity is less than 70 per­cent.

In ad­di­tion, most of the elim­i­nated pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity came from al­readys­trug­gling en­ter­prises in the province, which would have lit­tle ef­fect on the econ­omy.

“On the con­trary, con­trol­ling air pol­lu­tion can help new sources of eco­nomic growth emerge, such as the en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion in­dus­try and new energy in­dus­try,” Ge said.

Con­tact the writ­ers through zhangyu1@chi­nadaily.

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