Professor He Kebin, Dean of the School of Environment, Tsinghua University and also Board member of Clean Air Asia commenting on the report.
(Nov. 16th, 2015, Beijing) The implementation of the Chinese “Air Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan” (the ‘Action Plan’) has received much attention since it was published in September 2013. Today the Clean Air Asia China office released a new report “China Air 2015: Air Pollution Prevention and Control Progress in Chinese Cities“, showing the most comprehensive picture about how air pollution problem has been tackled in Chinese cities in the past two years.
To fully understand the progress of the “Action Plan” in Chinese cities, Clean Air Asia obtained air quality data, local air pollution control policies and their progress from local environmental protection bureaus in 74 major cities by collecting publicly available information, telephone interviews and field visits.
The report points out that compared to 2013, annual mean concentrations of the five pollutants, including fine particulate matter (PM2.5), inhalable particulate matter (PM10), sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide, have decreased in 2014. However, ninety percent of the 74 cities still experienced air pollution that exceeded the standard. What’s more, ground-level ozone pollution is getting aggravated with an increase of 4.3% on average.
Professor He Kebin, Dean of the School of Environment, Tsinghua University, and member of the Board of Trustees, Clean Air Asia, said “The Action Plan of Air Pollution Prevention and Control targets PM2.5 reduction, primary pollutants including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) as precursors of ozone. In the next phase of implementation, more attention should be paid to multi-pollutant control”.
The report shows that during 2013 and 2014, controlling coal consumption, eliminating “yellow-label” vehicles and upgrading fuel quality – are three core measures; monthly city air quality ranking of 10 best and 10 worst, air quality targets being incorporated into officials’ performance appraisal system, and city leaders being summoned by MEP for poor performance help to ensure the enforcement of the “Action Plan”. Regional collaboration and capacity building are gaining more attention at the same time. Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region and Yangtze River Delta regional coordination mechanisms have been preliminary established, where local governments have attempted to break administrative barriers and set up mutual cooperation on pollution control for the first time. With the completion of air quality monitoring networks, some cities have taken an important step towards more scientific decision making way by source apportionment analysis and emission inventory development.
The report also finds that the air quality management capacity of northeastern, central and southwestern cities are still insufficient compared to the leading cities in east China, whose pollution control policies are more comprehensive and control measures covers different sources. For example, Beijing and Shanghai air quality management capacity is ahead of other cities thanks to years of experience in air quality management work accumulated for the organization of previous international large events. They also get more financial support from the central government and the officials’ awareness on the importance of controlling air pollution are more pronounced.
“In our survey, officials from local environmental protection bureaus in northeastern, central and western cities explained the problems they are facing in cleaning the air. Firstly, they lack scientific guidance to combine different control measures that can best achieve air quality targets; secondly, their local governments are suffering greater pressure from developing the local economy than tackling air pollution.” Lu FU, China Director of Clean Air Asia said at the launch.
“The design of air pollution control targets and measures is a balance between different aspects, such as economic development, public health impacts, control costs and public requirements for the environment and economy. In reality, the cost of health and social impacts and the benefits of different control measures are neglected in the policy-making, resulting in a vague road maps with few practical measures,” said Professor Shiqiu ZHANG from School of Environmental Science and Engineering of Peking University.
“Clean Air Asia has worked in China for over 10 years, focusing on improving air quality in Chinese cities. We are an independent NGO aiming to document the national and local air pollution control policies, implementation progress, and effects from 2014 to 2017. This report is a beginning and we will continue this work in the following years,” Fu LU said. “We hope our reports can help Chinese cities learn from each other, and help the whole society support and supervise policy implementation and enforcement.”
Clean Air Asia also launched its online knowledge hub (www.allaboutair.cn) which provides city best practices, tailored international experience, training materials, air quality database and help-desk for local environment governors and local NGOs. The public can also find health instructions from it.
For more information, please contact:
Qiuxia WANG (Clean Air Asia China Office), +86 186 0021 6077, firstname.lastname@example.org
You can download the Chinese version of the report here.