CHINA is waging a relentless war against air pollution, which affects several cities, especially during the winter, causing great concern among the population.
Over the past few days, major cities in the world’s second-largest economy have been hit by dense smog that, in addition to affecting citizens’ health, prevents the full operation of economic activities.
Aware that environmental protection is a key to its overall development, the Chinese government decided to strengthen this sector and increase supervision and accountability in 2017.
To this end, the Chinese State Council issued a comprehensive plan on energy saving and cutting emissions for the period 2016-2020.
The plan consists of 11 measures dedicated to promoting “energy-saving and emission-reduction work, including reducing the coal consumption rate, promoting energy consumption in key areas, intensifying pollutant emission control, developing the circular economy, improving technological support, increasing financial policy support, and enhancing management.”
Chinese authorities are waging a war against large-scale carbon emissions and highly polluting vehicles, which are considered the main causes of the high concentration of respirable toxic particulate matter, PM 2.5, which causes smog.
The new directive, issued by the Chinese cabinet, will cap the country’s total coal consumption to five billion tons by 2020, among other actions.
In recent years, China has managed to maintain steady GDP growth and become the world's second economy. Despite undeniable advances, the economic structure of the country, based on heavy industry and dependent on fossil fuel energy, has resulted in certain stumbling blocks, such as increased pollution.
As such, protection of the environment has become one of the main issues in seeking to fulfill the country's goals.
According to information from the Ministry of Environmental Protection, some 62% of the 338 cities monitored have suffered the effects of air pollution this winter. The persistence of dense smog is a serious problem for several northern Chinese territories, where immediate measures have been implemented to attempt to combat this calamity.
In the capital, for example, authorities are planning to set up an environmental police force to monitor the 16 districts and try to improve city air quality in 2017.
The Deputy Director of the General Office of the Communist Party of China’s (CCP) National Security Commission and Mayor of Beijing, Cai Qi, vowed to take tougher measures to enforce regulations on polluting emissions.
The city’s only coal-fired power plant will be closed after the cold winter season and the consumption of this fuel will be cut by 30% to less than seven million tons this year.
In addition, some 300,000 old and highly polluting vehicles will be taken out of circulation, 500 low-end manufacturing plants will be closed and another 2,560 will be modernized to meet high pollutant treatment standards.
The Municipal Commission of Education of the Chinese capital also announced the timely installation of air filtration systems in several schools and kindergartens in the city.
According to Cai, as part of the fight against air pollution, Beijing will continue to build close relations with its neighbors, Hebei Province and the municipality of Tianjin, also affected by the recent smog episodes.
Meanwhile, Chen Jining, Minister of Environmental Protection, noted that his institution is evaluating the emergency plans of 20 cities for the management of severe air pollution, with a view to improving their response capacity.