Effective pollution controls adopted in 161 major Chinese cities have greatly improved air quality, a green organization said on Aug 22.
Of the cities, 90 percent have reached their goals, and 14 have managed to cut their PM2.5 concentration by over 20 percent, said Fu Lu, head of the China office of Clean Air Asia, an environmental group headquartered in Manila, the Philippines, which released an annual assessment of the government efforts to fight air pollution.
Last year, major pollutants such as sulfur dioxide were reduced 21.9 percent year-on-year, and the average PM2.5 reading was lowered by 14.1 percent in the cities, the report said, citing data from the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
PM2.5 refers to particulate matter with a diameter less than 2.5 microns that poses risks to human health.
But eight cities saw increases in PM2.5 levels, Fu said.
Among the eight, Zhengzhou and Jiaozuo in Henan province saw PM2.5 increase by 9 percent over 2014, and Yingkou, Shandong province, experienced a 23 percent increase, Fu said.
The other cities with higher PM 2.5 levels were Sanmenxia, Henan province; Zaozhuang and Rizhao, Shandong province; Changchun, Jilin province; and Langfang, Hebei province, the report said.
“Reducing pollution is not a simple issue that only needs strong determination. It also requires scientific and technological support,” said He Kebin, head of the School of Environment at Tsinghua University.
Some cities didn’t realize the importance of the technology behind their ambitious targets, He said.
For example, Zhengzhou ambitiously moved its 2018 target forward to last year, but failed to reach it.
Controlling pollution becomes more difficult as the easy problems are fixed first, and more complicated issues remain to be solved, He said.
Among the thorny issues is the increasing ground-level ozone, making it the second biggest pollutant in the country, the report said.
Both Fu and He agreed that most of the cities could reach the targets set for 2017.