Clean air plan will have 22 measures, says environmental watchdog

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 February, 2014, 6:38pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 February, 2014, 2:49am

The environmental watchdog said the nation's first clean air plan would be comprised of nearly two dozen measures, and reviews of how local governments were carrying out the policy would be made public.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection will work with other ministries to draw up the 22 measures to fight air pollution, deputy environment minister Zhai Qing said at a press conference yesterday.

The measures would include steps to monitor implementation at the local level, but few other details were given.

The proposed measures will be submitted to the State Council for approval shortly.

"After the inspection plan is approved, we will assess the implementation of the clean air plan in different provinces to ensure they are strictly following the orders and we will make the results public," Zhai said.

China introduced its first comprehensive plan to fight air pollution last year. It called for reductions in the levels of PM2.5 - the pollutants considered the most harmful to human health - in major city clusters around Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, by 25 per cent, 20 per cent and 15 per cent respectively by the end of 2017.

The contribution of coal to the energy supply should also be reduced to below 65 per cent of the total, a small drop from the 66.8 per cent level in 2012.

Zhai said the ministry vetoed as many as 32 projects worth a total investment of 118.4 billion yuan (HK$150 billion) last year as it stepped up efforts to get tough on industrial polluters.

But an environmental law expert said efforts to tackle air pollution should be backed up by new legislation. The environmental watchdog needed laws to better help it take on powerful industrial interests and local authorities obsessed with economic growth, said Professor Wang Canfa from the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing.

"The party discipline committee should bring charges against local officials who interfere" with the watchdog trying to investigate factories, she said.

Additional reporting by Reuters