Goal is to cut air pol­lu­tion 15% in 28 cities from Oc­to­ber to March

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Page Two - By ZHENG JINRAN in Bei­jing zhengji­ran@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China has pledged to cut PM2.5 con­cen­tra­tion by at least 15 per­cent year on year in 28 north­ern cities from Oc­to­ber to March to meet smog re­duc­tion tar­gets, the top en­vi­ron­men­tal author­ity said.

A new Bei­jing-Tian­jin-He­bei re­gional en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion bureau will be set up and will be­gin a trial op­er­a­tion by the end of Septem­ber to fa­cil­i­tate joint con­trols, it added.

The Min­istry of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion re­leased a 143-page ac­tion plan on its web­site on Thurs­day night, list­ing de­tailed tar­gets, con­trol­ling mea­sures and pun­ish­ments. The ac­tion plan cov­ers Bei­jing, Tian­jin and 26 other cities in the smog-plagued prov­inces of He­bei, Shan­dong, He­nan and Shanxi.

Among the 28 cities, Bei­jing, Tian­jin and Shi­ji­azhuang, He­bei prov­ince, will have to meet higher tar­gets. The three cities must cut PM2.5 con­cen­tra­tion by 25 per­cent year-on-year be­tween Oc­to­ber and March, and the num­ber of days with se­vere air pol­lu­tion are to be cut by 20 per­cent.

The plan also sets var­i­ous re­duc­tion tar­gets for the rest of the 28 cities based on their cur­rent pol­lu­tion level.

PM2.5, haz­ardous fine par­tic­u­late mat­ter with di­am­e­ter of less than 2.5 mi­crons, has been a ma­jor in­dex to mea­sure air pol­lu­tion in China.

The cen­tral gov­ern­ment re­quired the Bei­jing-Tian­jin -He­bei re­gion, by the end of 2017, to lower the re­gional con­cen­tra­tion of PM2.5 by 25 per­cent com­pared with the 2012 level, and Bei­jing must lower it to 60 mi­cro­grams per cu­bic me­ter.

Liu Youbin, an of­fi­cial with the min­istry’s Pub­lic­ity Depart­ment, said that since 2013, the re­gion has man­aged to re­duce air pol­lu­tion sig­nif­i­cantly, but the fre­quent se­vere smog in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary this year has hin­dered achieve­ment of the 2017 air qual­ity tar­gets.

The con­cen­tra­tion of PM2.5 in the first two months of the year in­creased in these cities, the first time in the past four years.

“It showed that the con­trols of PM2.5 in au­tumn and win­ter are crit­i­cal to de­cide whether we can achieve the 2017 tar­gets or not,” the ac­tion plan says.

Un­der such pres­sure, the min­istry has is­sued a pack­age of strict con­trol­ling mea­sures, from pol­lu­tion mon­i­tor­ing and in­dus­trial pro­duc­tion re­stric­tions to pun­ish­ment of pol­luters and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials who are re­miss.

Xie Hongx­ing, direc­tor of the Clean Air Al­liance of China, a non­profit en­vi­ron­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion, said the con­trol mea­sures adopted in the ac­tion plan are “stronger than be­fore”.

Ac­cord­ing to the ac­tion plan, all the 327 coun­ties in the 28 cities are re­quired to es­tab­lish auto-mon­i­tor­ing sta­tions and re­lease data to the pub­lic for mon­i­tor­ing. Heavy in­dus­tries will face tougher pro­duc­tion re­stric­tions than ever be­fore.

Some in­dus­tries pro­duc­ing con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als like ce­ment, bricks, pot­tery and plas­ter tablet will be sus­pended from pro­duc­tion in the heat­ing sea­son, start­ing in mid-Novem­ber, and iron pro­duc­tion will be halved in Shi­ji­azhuang, Tang­shan and Han­dan, He­bei prov­ince, the ma­jor do­mes­tic iron-mak­ing clus­ter.

Ad­di­tion­ally, coal con­sump­tion in Bei­jing, Tian­jin and He­bei will be cut by 11.2 mil­lion met­ric tons this year, and 3 mil­lion house­holds in the 28 cities will use elec­tric­ity or gas for heat­ing in the com­ing win­ter.

The new re­gional en­vi­ron­men­tal bureau will es­tab­lish uni­fied plans, is­sue uni­fied stan­dards and en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact as­sess­ments and con­duct mon­i­tor­ing and law en­force­ment, the plan says.

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