Shandong to reward $64,500 to cities for reducing pollution

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Photo taken on Dec 23, 2015 shows a seagull flying in smog in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province. [Photo/Xinhua] 

The government of Shandong Province is doubling the rewards and fines for cities' air pollution performance.

It will pay cities that reduce air pollution 400,000 yuan ($64,500) for each microgram of pollutant reduced per cubic meter, under an amended regulation that took effect on Friday.

"Meanwhile, fines for those whose air quality deteriorates will also be doubled," said Xue Mei, an official at the Shandong Bureau of Environmental Protection. This will encourage local governments to intensify their efforts to curb air pollution, Xue said.

Under the regulations, the evaluation system is based on quarterly indexes of PM2.5 and PM10 - particulate matter that is hazardous to humans-as well as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide.

PM2.5 counts for 60 percent in the evaluation system, while PM10 and sulfur dioxide are weighted at 15 percent each, and nitrogen dioxide counts for 10 percent.

Rewards and fines are determined according to quarterly evaluations.

The province offered a total of 129 million yuan in rewards to 17 cities during the first three quarters of 2015, statistics from the Shandong Bureau of Environmental Protection show.

Heze, in southwest Shandong, handed in 360,000 yuan in fines during the third quarter, becoming the only city thatwas fined for ecological damage over poor air quality in the first three quarters.

"Shandong's regulations for ecological compensation for air quality, which have been enforced for two years, are paying off," Li Guobin, deputy head of Hubei Bureau of Environmental Protection, was quoted as saying by Changjiang Times.

The average concentration of PM2.5 in Shandong was 67 micrograms per cubic meter during the first three quarters, a year-on-year decrease of 15.2 percent, PM10 was down 12.2 percent to 122 micrograms per cu m, while sulfur dioxide fell 23.2 percent to 43 micrograms per cu m and nitrogen dioxide was down 11.6 percent to 38 micrograms per cu m.

Hubei Province brought in regulations for air quality at the end of 2015 that will reward cities 300,000 yuan for each microgram reduction per cubic meter.

The evaluation system in Hubei is based on PM2.5 and PM10.

The central government is also offering funds to help heavily polluted cities improve air quality.

From 2013 to 2015, the Ministry of Finance allocated 27.1 billion yuan in financial rewards to Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei and the areas of Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta.

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