Can China Cut Its Northern Air Pollution By 15% This Winter?

Smog in Tianjin, China in early 2017

Smog in Tianjin, China in early 2017.

China plans to cut the level of air pollution in 28 northern cities by at least 15% this winter in order to meet the smog targets.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection in China posted Thursday on its website a 143-page long plan to battle smog starting with the month of October and ending in March 2018.

The plan would apply to Beijing, Tianjin and a number of 26 other cities located in the northern provinces of Hebei, Shanxi, Henan and Shandong.

China suffers due to the high levels of air pollution in its northern area, especially during winter time when the level of coal consumption increases for heating the homes.

In 2017, China is under high pressure because needs to meet its air quality targets set for this year.

The air quality target for this year (2017) says that China must cut the levels of PM2.5 (particulate matter 2.5) by more than 25% in the northern region of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei, and bring down the average concentration of PM2.5 to 60 micrograms per cubic meter in Beijing.

2017 started in China with near record-high smog levels in January and February, but the authorities blamed the unfavorable weather conditions (they expect from the wind to remove the smog that gathers over a city, and if there is no wind they blame the unfavorable weather conditions).

It is more than obvious that China is committed to reduce the level of air pollution in its northern cities during the winter season, but we also know that talks and plans are not enough to change something in this case, China relies heavily on coal to generate electricity and for heating, and this is the real reason for the high levels of smog in its northern cities.

From April to June 2017, the air quality in Beijing was among the best over the last five years, so people are optimistic, but the winter is not very far away, and I’m sure that the news showing the inhumane levels of smog in the northern cities will return.

From October 2017, China plans to reduce the levels of smog during winter time by reducing the output by 50% in the steel producing cities like Tangshan and Handan.

The authorities are planning to eliminate thousands of coal-fired boilers in the region to reduce the smog produced by these heating devices.

To reduce the smog levels in the northern region, China wants to restrict coal haulage on roads and wants to ensure that power generators, steel mills and coking plants will complete their upgrade program aimed at controlling harmful emissions before the heating systems are switched on.

The region of Hebei and Tangshan in China are the biggest producers of steel in the country (the annual output of steel is around 100 million tonnes, which is more than the total output of steel of the U.S.), and the neighboring region of Shanxi is the biggest coal producer in China (over 900 million tonnes of annual output).

The restrictions imposed to reduce the level of smog during the winter would reduce beside the output of steel and coal, but also the output of aluminum.

Magda Savin
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Magda Savin

I write about the renewable energy sector, electric cars and climate change issues.
I love nature and good food, so I travel all over the world to see new places and meet new people.
Magda Savin
Magda Savin
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