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Forecast calls for clearer winter skies

Zheng Jinran
Updated: Sep 2,2017 7:24 AM     China Daily

Residents in the smog-plagued northern region are expected to experience more days with good air quality in autumn and winter because of the harsh restrictions on emissions that came into effect on Sept 1, the top environmental authority said.

“China has enacted tougher controls against air pollution, decreasing the rate that airborne pollutants are being emitted,” Liu Bingjiang, head of the air quality management bureau at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, said on Sept 1.

For example, at least 3 million households from the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and the neighboring areas will use gas or electricity to replace coal for heating from mid-November to mid-March. Only 800,000 households did that last year, he added.

“I have confidence that we can have more good-air days in the autumn and winter considering these harsh controls,” Liu said.

The major 28 cities in these regions will cut the number of days with severe air pollution by at least 15 percent year-on-year from October to March, of which Beijing, Tianjin and Shijiazhuang of Hebei province will see a cut of 20 percent, according to the governments’ action plan.

The measures included punishment of polluting companies and irresponsible government officials, or shutting down polluting plants.

“Every city knows what they need to do,” Tian Weiyong, head of the ministry’s environmental supervision bureau, said on Sept 1.

The ministry will send inspection teams to the 28 cities to monitor the implementation of the plan and motivate local governments to do more, he said.

In addition, another 10 cities with severe winter air pollution will be visited by inspection teams from the central government.

“The leading officials will be held accountable for poor performance,” Liu Changgen, deputy director in charge of central inspection from the ministry, said on Sept 1.

Accompanying the strong government measures, experts have conducted scientific research on the sources of emissions, making the controls more efficient.

“By the end of September, all the 28 cities will have the results of research into their emissions, which gives the decision-makers a clearer picture of their targets,” said He Kebin, dean of Tsinghua University’s School of Environment, adding that more research will be conducted to update the data and provide thorough surveys for governments.