Air pollution in Beijing, Hebei down 12pc in 2018
- Emissions of small, hazardous breathable particles known as PM2.5 fell to 51 micrograms per cubic metre, local government says
- But figure still above country’s air quality standard of 35mcg
Smog emissions in Beijing and the surrounding industrial province of Hebei fell by at least 12 per cent last year after a long crackdown on polluters and campaigns to reduce household coal use, environmental authorities in the Chinese capital said.
Beijing and Hebei have been on the front line of a war on pollution launched in 2014 to soothe public disquiet about the state of China’s skies, rivers and soil following more than three decades of untrammelled economic growth.
But environmentalists have expressed concern the country’s slowing economy will force local authorities to ease up on polluters this year, and pollution readings in major industrial cities rose 14 per cent in November.
Beijing’s emissions of small, hazardous breathable particles known as PM2.5 fell by 12 per cent to 51 micrograms per cubic metre over the whole of 2018, the local government said on its website on Friday.
Average emissions are still significantly higher than China’s official air quality standard of 35mcg.
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Beijing managed to meet the target in January, August and September, the local government said.
It said 656 polluting enterprises were forced to relocate last year, with firms and individuals fined a total of 230 million yuan (US$33.5 million) for violations, up 22.5 per cent from last year.
The official China Daily said 30 per cent of the improvement resulted from “favourable meteorological conditions”.
About a third of Beijing’s PM2.5 emissions originated from neighbouring regions, the report said.
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Hebei, China’s biggest steel producing region, saw PM2.5 emissions fall by 12.5 per cent to an average of 56mcg in 2018, preliminary figures from the province’s environment bureau showed last week.
The cut was partly a result of efforts to cut coal consumption, as about 1.8 million households replaced coal with natural gas and electricity for heating this winter, the report said.