• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 2:47pm

State Council announces 10 new measures to curb air pollution

Controls on worst polluters and PM2.5, adjustment to nation's energy structure among State Council measures to rid cities of choking smog

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 June, 2013, 3:59am

The central government has taken further steps to curb air pollution, with fresh measures outlined at a cabinet meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang yesterday.

The State Council announced 10 new measures to fight air pollution in urban areas. 

The government had promised to implement stricter curbs on severe air pollution after most of the cities in the north choked on thick smog for most of the winter.

It will strictly control highly energy-intensive and polluting industries, adjust its energy structure and enhance control of PM2.5 - particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter that can damage health - in populated regions and cities, a statement released after the meeting said.

The government said it would eliminate overcapacity in heavily polluting industries, such as iron and steel, cement, aluminium and flat glass, earlier than the target originally set in the latest five-year plan. It also vowed to reduce major emissions by some heavily polluting industries by more than 30 per cent by the end of 2017.

During periods of heavy pollution, local governments should enact emergency management response measures, such as traffic restrictions or emissions limits for polluting industries, the cabinet said.

The government would hold regional officials accountable for achieving targets on curbing pollution set by the government and strengthen oversight by setting up an assessment system, it said.

Regional officials have long pursued rapid economic growth, with mounting costs in terms of environmental destruction and air pollution.

Zhou Rong , a climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace, said the general strategies adopted in fighting air pollution were "in the right direction", though how effective they would be would depend on the details of each measure.

"For instance, the top leadership has realised the key solutions to air pollution lie in restructuring energy consumption and eliminating production of highly polluting industries," she said. "But detailed targets have yet to be announced … to see how ambitious the government really is on cleaning up the sky."

The State Council also said air quality would be included in appraising the performance of local officials. "This could bring some genuine change if the air quality issue is given a higher priority than gross domestic product growth, but it is still a big if now, given the very brief outlines of these 10 measures," Zhou said.

Following the announcement of the new measures, the revision of the mainland's outdated air pollution prevention law could be accelerated, she said.

The State Council meeting also studied the development of the solar power industry, which is suffering from overcapacity and has become a source of friction with Western trading partners.



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These measures don't address the main problems. Power generation from coal is said to be the source of about 60% of China's air pollution. Throw in steam production from coal and you have about 70% of the problem. There are two main sources of pollution from coal-fired power stations SOx and NOx. For the SOx you either use flue gas desulfurization (FGD) or burn very, very low sulfur coal. In most any other country besides China FGD costs about USD 400 to USD 700 a kw for the equipment. In China that cost is RMB 100. Why so low? Because China puts in FGD that has a relatively low design level of removal (typically 85% vrs 97%) and basically only has to achieve that level of removal under ideal conditions (acceptance tests) and then does not have to be capable of continuous operation. Chinese FGD corrode and are in operable in no time.
The situation is even worse for NOx. For NOx you need to control your combustion process, which reduces much of the NOx in the boiler and chemically remove even more NOx either in the boiler, in the flue duct downstream of the boiler or in a separately built selective catalytic reduction (SCR) tower. China is now requiring more NOx reduction in theory, but in practice just as with FGD which began in China 10 years ago,, the NOx emission removal strategy measures are mostly measures in name rather than in practice.
Until you hear China is revamping these programs you can disregard any tough words on air pollution from the Chinese government.
In terms of steel industry, new standards and targets have been floated to the public for comment. As ever, enforcement and fighting man-made statistics are the real issues.


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