Tougher plan to reduce air pollution

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Zhao said the latest plan is one of three key action plans that will be released over the next five years. The plans will address airborne pollution prevention, water pollution control and improvements to the rural environment.

Wang said that although eliminating outmoded methods of industrial production may have negative effects on local economies, the plan will boost the green industry. He said the plan will also create GDP growth of about 2,500 billion yuan.

Zhao, of the environment ministry, said officials from the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region have already had several joint meetings regarding regional air pollution prevention.

"The detailed cooperation plan is still under discussion," he said. "Basic rules, such as unified law enforcement, monitoring and the release of data, are sure to be included," Zhao said.

Many cities have already announced their updated targets to control PM 2.5.

The target for Beijing is keeping the concentration of PM 2.5 at around 60 micrograms per cubic meter by 2017, a level about 25 percent lower than 2012 levels, said Zhang Gong, deputy mayor of Beijing, Beijing News reported last week.

Officials from Shanghai and Tianjin have vowed that by 2017 their PM 2.5 levels will be reduced by 20 percent compared with 2012 levels. Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei, has promised to reduce emissions by 30 percent from 2012 levels.

"The thick smog and haze that covered large areas of the country in January has focused public attention on this issue," Zhao said.

He said that apart from sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, which are widely known as major air pollutants, volatile organic compounds are more harmful and deserve more attention.

They are mainly generated in the petrochemical industry and the auto coating industry, Zhao said.

"The central government is thinking about promoting a volatile organic compounds emission control project in the 13 most polluted areas," said Hao Zhengping, head of the exhaust gas purification committee of the China Association of Environmental Protection Industry.



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