The State Council held its weekly policy briefing on Feb 13, 2015. [Photo by Wang Zhuangfei/China Daily]
The recently updated air quality standards have helped ease average air pollution in 74 monitored cities in China, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said in a press release on Feb 13.
Among the 74 cities monitored for implementing the new air quality standards, the levels of PM 2.5 were cut by 11.1 percent on average in 2014, according to the ministry.
Around the time of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meetings Week in November, Beijing enjoyed superb air quality for four days and good quality for seven days, and the average levels of pollutants monitored hit a record low in comparison with the same period of the past five years.
The new air quality standards were rolled out as the country’s pollution regulators were boosting efforts in implementing a plan for reducing overall air pollution for 2011-2015.
The ministry confirmed that annual measures undertaken by various localities in 2014 will be evaluated in March.
A total of 338 cities have improved their monitoring capacity to adapt to the new air quality standards, “one year in advance”, of schedule, the ministry said.
Contingency plans to address serious pollution are being drafted by various localities, and “more than two thirds of the provinces and the cities” have finished the drafting of their plans as of the end of 2014, the ministry confirmed.
Satellite remote sensing and unmanned drone monitoring are increasingly engaged in law enforcement, and the technology has also been applied to monitoring emissions in seven provincial areas and more than 20 cities.
Sectors responsible for serious pollution were effectively targeted last year, and the ministry confirmed that the relevant indicators for 2014 have been achieved exceeding the requirement made by the Report on the Work of the Government 2014.
Funding for environmental protection has been boosted as the central treasury authorities mobilized special funding of 10.4 billion yuan ($1.7 billion) last year to support localities fighting pollution.
As of the end of November, 2014, the daily sewage treatment capacity of the country has increased by 9 million tons.
Environmental evaluations for planned investments are strict, and the ministry last year dismissed, suspended or returned approval applications from 26 programs because of their failure to meet the environmental protection criteria.
City administrators have been called for strengthening oversight over environment related irregularities, and the ministry has talked to the top officials of seven cities to deal with the problems last year.
Local law enforcement efforts are also advancing, and the environmental authorities in a number of localities transferred 2,080 cases of environment-related criminal cases last year to the public security authorities, doubling the total number of the past 10 years.
Media briefing systems were established and 226 prominent cases have been unveiled by the ministry.
Local environment watchdogs also ramped up emergency responses to pollution related accidents, with 471 incidents dealt with last year.