Beijing vows to slash PM2.5 pollution

Updated: 2012-02-09 07:01


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BEIJING - Beijing will roll out multiple measures to lower the city's readings of PM2.5, which stands for fine particulate matter in the air, by nearly 30 percent by 2020, according to an air pollution abatement plan made by the municipal government.

The plan aims to reduce the PM2.5 reading on average a year in the national capital from the current 70 micrograms per cubic meter of air to 50 micrograms by 2020, according to a report published Wednesday in the Beijing Daily, the mouthpiece of the city's committee of the Communist Party of China.

However, the capital's ambition is likely to be dwarfed by the upcoming national standard for PM2.5 rating.  Although the national standard has yet to be released, public hearings by the country's environmental ministry last month suggested the future national PM2.5 standard may be set at 35 micrograms per cubic meter of air on average a year.

The PM2.5 gauge is stricter than Beijing's previous standard of PM10, as it monitors "fine" particles 2.5 microns or less in diameter.

A fierce online public outcry over the measurements began at the end of 2011 when it came to light that air-quality monitoring results released by Beijing's weather forecast station and the US Embassy in Beijing often widely differed.

Influenced by the public outcry, Beijing environmental authorities launched the PM2.5 measure of air quality in late January and soon released the monitoring data.

Monitoring results show that PM2.5 particles in Beijing's air are mainly caused by coal burning, automobile exhaust and dust generated at construction sites.

The air quality improvement measures to be implemented this year in Beijing include the following items:

-- By the end of the year, the city will complete a network of 35 PM2.5 monitoring stations and establish a satellite remote sensing system to oversee the overall air condition.

-- By 2020, 1.6 million old automobiles designed with outdated emission standards will be weeded out.

-- By 2020, the government is expected to limit the city's annual total consumption of coal within 10 million tons, 62 percent less than the amount estimated to be consumed by the end of 2015.

-- From now on, heavy-polluting and energy-consuming companies in oil refining, petrochemical, cement, iron and steel industries will not be allowed to open new plants or expand their current workplaces. By 2015, 1,200 factories producing asphalt, glass and ceramic will retreat from the city. By 2020, all cement plants run for profit in Beijing will be closed.

-- By 2020, the city will increase its forest area by 2 million mu (133,000 hectares) and increase water surface by 2,000 hectares, in an effort to improve the city's environmental carrying capacity.