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China pollution

China ‘may let provinces set own winter pollution curbs’

Production cuts on heavy industry will remain this winter, but detailed cutting rates will be set by local authorities, source says

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 September, 2018, 4:07pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 September, 2018, 10:33pm

China is considering allowing its northern provinces to decide individual output cuts by heavy industry to rein in emissions during the winter, ditching an earlier plan for blanket cuts, a source said.

Talk of the move drove down prices of steel and steelmaking raw materials and comes as Beijing looks to end its “one size fits all” fight on pollution, devising more nuanced policies reflecting local conditions to limit economic disruption.

“Production cuts on heavy industry will remain this winter, but detailed cutting rates will be set by local authorities based on their own situation,” said the source, who is involved with the plan.

It is not clear when the Ministry of Ecology and Environment will announce a formal decision, said the source, who declined to be identified as the plan has not been made public.

The ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

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If adopted, the move would be another sign of Beijing fine-tuning policy in its years-long fight against smog.

It would ease sweeping proposals in the ministry’s draft plan, reported last month, for cuts of 50 per cent in steel production and 30 per cent in primary aluminium in some areas.

The potential for more flexible output cuts pushed down prices of steel and steelmaking raw materials on Tuesday.

The most active coke futures and hot-rolled steel coil were on track for their biggest one-day fall since March, while steel rebar lost 2.2 per cent, heading for its worst daily performance since June.

Last winter, a plan to switch millions of households and thousands of businesses in north China to natural gas from coal backfired as severe gas shortages crippled the region.