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Clean air action plan to reduce pollution

By Wu Wencong | | Updated: 2013-09-12 11:08

Clean air action plan to reduce pollution

Vehicles drive on the Third Ring Road on a hazy winter day in Beijing in this Jan 12, 2013 file photo. [Photo/Agencies]

Residents in China may be able to breathe much cleaner air within five years, according to an action plan released by the State government on Thursday, which contains the toughest-ever measures to combat airborne pollution.

The action plan sets specific goals for all of China's 338 county-level cities. By 2017, the concentration of breathable suspended particles with a diameter of 10 microns or less must fall by at least 10 percent compared to 2012.

Tougher objectives have been set for a number of key areas. The regions of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province must reduce the concentration of PM 2.5 — those smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter, which can penetrate deep into the lungs — by about 25 percent by 2017, based on the 2012 level. The target for the Yangtze River Delta region is around 20 percent, while it's roughly 15 percent for the Pearl River Delta region.

Major measures among the plan's 35 items involve bringing pollutants, such as volatile organic compounds, under control. Also achieving negative coal consumption in several regions, accelerating the process of monitoring and disclosing PM2.5 readings, extending monitoring from 119 county-level cities to all 338 before 2015, and banning heavily-polluting motor vehicles from the streets by 2017.

Experts and officials said the plan may have an adverse effect on some industries, but will also favor many others, such as encouraging industries like steel and coal to grow in a much healthier mode, according to Wang Jian, deputy head of the pollution prevention and control department at the Environmental Protection Ministry.

"An estimated 1,700 billion yuan ($277 billion) of investment from all channels will also back up the environmental protection industry. We can tell that the combined influence on the economy will be positive," he said.

The action plan is deemed the toughest ever, not just because of the stringent targets it sets, but also because of its performance assessment system, which will involve the Organization Department of the Communist Party of China in environmental action plans for the first time.

The department has the power to appoint or dismiss officials. If local governments fail to reach their allocated targets, it may affect the positions and political futures of the officials involved, according to Wang.

Other main goals:

Some 5 million heavy polluting motor vehicles in three key regions -- Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei province; the Yangtze River Delta region; and the Pearl Delta region -- will be taken off the streets by 2015. The timetable to eliminate heavy polluting motor vehicles nationwide is 2017.

By 2015, another 150 billion cubic meters of natural gas pipelining capacity will be built. Installed capacity for nuclear power plants will reach 50 million kilowatts, raising the consumption ratio of non-fossil power to 13 percent by 2017.

The proportion of the country’s coal consumption will drop from the current 68 percent to 65 percent by 2017. Negative coal consumption in the three key regions will be achieved by 2017.

All 338 county-level cities nationwide will set up national-level and city-level monitoring stations by 2015, with ability to monitor PM2.5.

Special: Fight Air Pollution


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