A watchtower of the Forbidden City is seen under the blue sky in Beijing on Jan 22, 2018. [Photo/VCG]
State Council gives 3-year timetable for reducing pollution 'significantly'
The State Council has released a three-year action plan for air pollution control, giving a timetable and road map for improving air quality and vowing to "significantly" reduce the discharge of polluting gases while curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
The country's air quality and people's satisfaction with it should significantly improve over the three years, according to the plan, which was released by China's cabinet on Tuesday.
By 2020, the discharge of sulfur dioxide and nitric oxide should drop by at least 15 percent from 2015 levels. Prefecture-level and bigger cities with average concentrations of PM2.5 above the national standard of 35 micrograms per cubic meter should have their concentrations down by at least 18 percent from 2015, the plan said.
While 80 percent of days in major cities across the country should have fairly good air quality, the plan also sets a goal to reduce the days in these cities with heavy pollution by more than 25 percentage points from 2015.
Economic, legal, technological and administrative means will be adopted in a coordinated, methodical and targeted manner, and six major measures will be taken to "win the battle for blue skies", it said.
While the industrial structure will be optimized and green industries will be promoted, measures will be intensified to treat poorly managed small polluting companies.
It also said the country will continue to promote the shift from bulk coal to clean energy as heating sources in northern China, and limits will be set for coal consumption in key areas.
Meanwhile, railways will play a bigger role in freight transport. The country will strengthen its effort to improve the quality of gasoline for road and water transport as it develops a green transport system.
Under the plan, afforestation projects will be initiated and campaigns on surface mines will be launched to curb dust, which has been a major contributor to PM2.5 - particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 microns or less.
The action plan also vows to speed updates of relevant policies, laws and standards so that they offer support for the country's air pollution control effort. More efforts will be made to improve the environmental monitoring system as well.
China accomplished all the major tasks of its five-year clean air action plan in 2017, but challenges remain. About 70 percent of the country's 338 prefecture-level and bigger cities didn't meet national standards for PM2.5, PM10, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide last year.
The average density of PM2.5 in these cities, for example, stood at 43 micrograms per cubic meter last year, according to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.