Cities in China are stepping up the fight against air pollution. CFP
For many residents of northern China, air quality is one of the top concerns when winter approaches.
On Nov 23, haze shrouded Shijiazhuang, Hebei. Local authorities issued an orange alert for heavy air pollution. It’s not the first time the province has issued alerts this year.
According to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, burning coal for heat is the major reason for high levels of PM2.5 – fine particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter – in winter, which is about twice that of other seasons.
国家生态环境部表示，燃煤供热是PM2.5（直径小于等于 2.5 微米的颗粒物）数值高的主要原因。冬季PM2.5的数值是其他季节的两倍。
Meanwhile, unfavorable weather this year has brought other negative impacts. “Higher temperatures and less rainfall since September have increased ozone density and made pollutants harder to disperse,” said Liu Youbin, spokesman of the ministry.
To stop pollution from getting worse, an action plan has been released. The goal is to reduce PM2.5 density in major cities this winter.
This year’s plan sets higher goals than previous years. The average density of PM2.5 in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region should drop by 4 percent this winter until March 31, 2020, China Daily reported. Last year’s goal was 3 percent.
Also, the number of days with serious pollution should fall by 6 percent.
China has worked to improve the environment. Solid efforts have been made in fighting pollution. The national standard for PM2.5 is set at 35 micrograms per cubic meter. From 2015 to 2018, the number of major Chinese cities with air quality meeting the standard increased from 73 to 114.
Taking Beijing as an example, the average concentration of PM2.5 dropped to 23 micrograms per cubic meter in Beijing in August. That’s the lowest measurement for August since PM2.5 level first recorded, according to the Beijing Municipal Ecological Environment Bureau.
Beijing’s campaign against air pollution has also been listed as a study case to offer relevant experience to cities in developing countries. Aarti Khosla, from Indian environmental organization Climate Trends, told Xinhua that lessons shared from China’s experiences are “worth considering” in India, whose capital, New Delhi, has suffered from extremely severe air pollution recently.