China launches new measures to tackle air pollution

China’s cabinet has outlined measures aimed at improving the country’s air pollution problems, which have plagued many of its larger cities over recent years.

One of the main measures, announced in state media over the weekend, is a target to reduce emissions from heavily polluting industries by 30% by the end of 2017. In statement after a meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang, the State Council said there would be “tough measures for tough tasks”.

In January and February 2013 air pollution levels in the capitial Beijing and a number of other cities rose to what are believed to have been record levels. Dubbed the ‘airpocalypse’, Beijing was shrouded in a thick cloud of smog. On more than one occasion the US embassy in the city, which monitors air quality and publishes the results on a Twitter feed, described the levels as “beyond index”.

The new measures do not outline which industries would be included in the 30% target. However, in February in response to the air pollution crisis and a high level of public outcry, the government announced that six heavily polluting industries including iron and steel, cement and petrochemicals would have to comply with “special” emission limits from the start of March. Details of the limits were unclear.

Another of the new measures announced is to “enhance control” of PM2.5 pollution, which are fine particulates that measure less than 2.5 microns in diameter. The Chinese authorities only started to measure this type of pollution in Beijing in October 2012. This type of pollution is considered particularly dangerous to health as the fine particles can lodge deep within the lungs and enter the bloodstream. The statement said that a ranking of air quality in major cities should be made public.

continue reading China launches new measures to tackle air pollution | Jennifer Duggan | Environment |

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