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Warm Weather Challenges Air Pollution Control

Foul weather conditions will make it unlikely for Beijing to have 227 days, or 62 percent of the year's total, with clear sky, a goal set out in the city's annual air pollution control plan.
This was announced by government officials at an air pollution control meeting held in Beijing Wednesday.
Chinese meteorologists forecast that Beijing would expect a warm winter this year as the tropical atmosphere and water body in the Pacific have entered the El Nino state.
By Oct. 31, there was still 40 days short for Beijing to achieve its annual "blue sky" projection.
As winter falls in the fourth quarter, heating efforts usually increase discharge of pollutants, particularly sulfur dioxide and dust, in Beijing, according to experts. And a warm winter would have less cold air, fewer windy days and more foggy weather, which would make it more difficult for pollutants to be dispelled, said Shi Hanmin, head of the municipal environmental protection administration.
Shi called for measures to be taken to put pollutant discharge by heating systems under rigid control, to eliminate outmoded motor vehicles with heavy exhaust and to reduce dust pollution from construction sites.
Actually, the overall ecological environment has improved remarkably since the beginning of the 1990s, thanks to the city's endeavor to optimize energy mix and reduce pollution from motor vehicles, said Du Shaozhong, deputy director of the environmental protection administration. Major measures also included clean production process and ecological agriculture projects, Du added.
According to Feng Yuqiao, who was in charge of an atmosphere department of the administration, Beijing injected a total of 67 billion yuan (US$8.1 billion) in various environmental protection projects between 1998 and 2003, or four percent of the city's gross domestic product for the six-year period.
Compared with 1998, sulfur dioxide level in Beijing's air reduced 49 percent, nitrogen dioxide down 3 percent and particulate matter down 20 percent. As a result, days with blue sky accounted for 61.4 percent of the 2003 total, up 34 percentage points from the 1998 level. And the proportion was up to 63.9 percent for the first nine months of this year, said Feng Yuqiao.

(Xinhua News Agency November 4, 2004)

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