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China: Progress on curbing some pollutants
October 26, 2013, 7:23 am

In Beijing, the concentration of airborne particles, called PM 2.5, in January this year averaged nine times the safe level defined by the World Health Organisation [Xinhua]

In Beijing, the concentration of airborne particles, called PM 2.5, in January this year averaged nine times the safe level defined by the World Health Organisation [Xinhua]

China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection has reported some progress in combating four major pollutants which have in recent years put some environmental agencies on high alert.

Citing more aggressive emission reduction projects and stricter energy policies the report said there was a year-on-year decrease of 2-3 per cent in the first half of the year in organic water pollutants, emissions of sulfur dioxide, emissions of ammonia nitrogen and emissions of nitrogen oxide.

The report came just days after the northeastern part of the country was hit by a pollution and smog outbreak largely due to coal fire being used for heating.

Officials in Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province, were forced to shut down schools and major highways because visibility was near zero.

According to statistics reported by local officials, Harbin’s air quality index (AQI) was at least 20 times higher than what health organisations such as the UN’s WHO have deemed safe for humans.

At the same time, a large cloud of smog settled over the city of Changsha, capital of the central province of Hunan, and has not dissipated in five days.

China is trying to combat pollution throughout the mainland, but the task may prove to be Herculean.

One reduction target requires that the three provinces cut more than 10 per cent of their current coal consumption within the next five years.

Meanwhile, statistics from the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau show the capital had 5.35 million vehicles by the end of July this year. New measures expected to begin in 2014 would cut the number of cars on the road in the capital so that by 2017 the number does not exceed 6 million.

A recent report from the National People’s Congress Environment and Resources Protection Committee warns that if China continues to push its industrialisation and urbanisation drive, environmental pollution and ecological degradation may worsen.

China now aims to reduce total vehicle fuel consumption by five per cent or more compared to 2012.

The Asian nation had earlier in July announced that it would allocate over three trillion yuan ($489.3 billion) to combat the growing pollution of the country’s water and environment.

The anti-pollution plan aims to significantly improve air quality by 2017, with PM 2.5 density controlled to around 60 micrograms per cubic metre.

PM 2.5 are airborne particles measuring less than 2.5 microns in diameter which can pose health risks.

In January, PM 2.5 readings in the capital averaged nine times the safe level defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Source: Agencies

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