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China realized fewer days of air pollution

Li Hongyang
Updated: Dec 02,2020 07:23 AM    China Daily

People in China have seen fewer days with air pollution compared with last year, thanks to the wider promotion of clean energy and reduction in polluting emissions, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment said on Dec 30.

Data from the ministry showed that both the frequency and intensity of air pollution have decreased this year.

On polluted days since fall, the average density of PM2.5-atmospheric particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers-has dropped by 8.2 percent from last year to 167 micrograms per cubic meter.

Between Oct 1 and Nov 26, the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei cluster and surrounding areas, including the provinces of Shanxi, Shandong and Henan, experienced 17.4 percent fewer polluted days than during the same period last year, the ministry said.

Ministry spokesman Liu Youbin said heavy pollution was also largely reduced. Since fall started, China has experienced two rounds of heavy pollution, a 50 percent reduction year-on-year.

"Reducing emissions of pollutants is a major way to control the air pollution, and the ministry has used heavy pollution warning systems and has dispatched working groups nationwide to tackle the issue," he said.

Fifty-two cities, mostly in North China, saw their air pollution warning systems triggered in November.

Enterprises that emit polluting gases are included in the ministry's heavy pollution emergency response list. When an early warning is issued, such companies need to suspend or reduce production, the ministry said.

By the end of November, the ministry had sent hundreds of working groups to supervise and assist 2,407 enterprises on the list to reduce pollutants.

Group members from the ministry help enterprises create guidelines on emissions reduction during heavy polluting days, or those whose guidelines were not up to par with the technical standards issued by the ministry were required to revise them.

For companies that failed to implement guidelines, the ministry publicized their names to put pressure on them to do so, according to Liu.

In winter, burning coal for heating remains a major cause of air pollution. The central government has provided households with subsidies to convert their heating to gas and electricity, given that green energy still costs more than coal.

"Our groups have checked whether residents, especially those in North China, have switched their heating methods or not," Liu said. "Also, a telephone hotline is ready to respond to residents' questions and issues about heating supply. It is a new measure to ensure a warm and clean winter for them."

He added that previous experience has pointed to a tendency that China is likely to see heavier air pollution in December than October and November, when adverse atmospheric conditions, an increasing amount of pollutant emissions brought by the resumption of production plants after the COVID-19 outbreak and the remaining coal-supported heating systems will all contribute to air pollution.

The ministry said it will strengthen daily monitoring and forecast accordingly while implementing a combination of targeted countermeasures to address the problem.

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