Beijing releases 'blue sky' action plan

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Beijing released its 2018 "blue sky" action plan on March 21, aiming to continue bringing down its average annual concentration of PM2.5 particles. The plan specifies air quality targets for each of its districts, sets a focus on managing high-emission vehicles, and promotes the expansion of low-emission zones from within the Sixth Ring Road to the whole city.

Setting district-specific PM2.5 targets 

At the end of 2017, the city's average annual concentration of PM2.5 particles dropped to 58 micrograms per cubic meter, reaching the target set by the Measures for the Prevention and Control of Air Pollution by the State Council. 

The action plan this year sets specific air quality targets for each district. Dongcheng, Xicheng and Chaoyang districts will aim to lower the concentration to less than 58 micrograms per cubic meter. For Haidian, Fengtai, Shijingshan, Mentougou, Fangshan, Tongzhou, Shunyi, Daxing, Changping and Pinggu districts, the goals are respectively 56, 60, 54, 57, 65, 55, 61, 52 and 55 micrograms per cubic meter. The targets of Huairou, Miyun and Yanqing districts are below 49 micrograms per cubic meter, and for Beijing Economic and Technological Development Zone, lower than 65 micrograms per cubic meter.

Expanding low-emission areas to the whole city

Changes have taken place in the city's pollution sources and characteristics after nearly five years of clean-up efforts, and the city faces with increasingly difficult challenges in pollution control. Therefore, while reducing engineering emissions, Beijing also sets its focus on heavy-duty diesel vehicles, dust, and volatile organic compounds this year. 

The city is putting the management of high-emission vehicles at top priority, while promoting the expansion of low-emission areas from within the Sixth Ring Road to the whole city and the elimination of heavy-duty diesel vehicles meeting the third-stage national emission standard.

According to the action plan, Beijing will step up management efforts at main highway entrances into the city, key streets in the city, and areas with large number of high-emission vehicles. The traffic police and environmental protection department will inspect vehicles at main highway entrances, and carry out 1.3 million road inspections on heavy-duty diesel vehicles throughout the year. In addition, the city will also carry out 200,000 nighttime road inspections on heavy-duty diesel vehicles in 2018.

Closing down polluting companies

According to the action plan, Beijing will elevate the standard for key industries, and carry out technical reform projects for environmental protection and action plans for up-to-standard pollutant discharge based on relocating non-capital functions. The city will close down 500 manufacturing companies that do not fit capital functions, among which Changping District is set to close down 121 companies—the most of all districts—and Tongzhou District is set to shut down 82. 

Meanwhile, key companies in the petrochemical industry will formulate a comprehensive plan to strengthen the management of volatile organic compounds.

In addition, the city will launch a new round of analysis on the sources of PM2.5 particles in Beijing, promote the application of big data technology and sensor technology in environmental monitoring and evaluation, as well as the management of fixed and mobile sources, and carry out the construction of its "ecological and environmental big data project."

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