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China Releases National Action Plan on Air Pollution Control

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On September 12, China’s National Action Plan on Air Pollution Control was published by the State Council. It was released just 10 days after Beijing’s Clean Air Action Plan. The National Plan aims to improve air quality all over China and in particular to reduce the number of heavily polluted days (AQI value above 200). It sets the road map for air pollution control for the next five years with a focus on three key regions – Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, the Yangtze River Delta (around Shanghai) and the Pearl River Delta (around Guangzhou).

The National Action Plan distinguishes between particles with a diameter between 2.5 and 10 micrometres (PM 10) and fine particles (PM 2.5, particles with diameter of 2.5 micrometres or less). It states that the PM 10 concentration shall be reduced by 10% until 2017 (taking 2012 as a base year), while the PM 2.5 concentration in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Area, Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta should be decreased by 25%, 20% and 15% respectively. In Beijing, where the annual average concentration of PM 2.5 is estimated at about 100 µg/m3 it is said to be controlled at under 60 µg/m3. The World Health Organisation considers 25 µg/m3 a safe concentration level.

Transport is one of the core pillars of the National Action Plan besides industry, energy production and energy saving policies. By introducing market mechanisms, principles like “the polluter pays” principle and “more emission, more responsibility” shall be established. In addition the improvement of fuel quality and an improved environmental management of motor vehicles are also goals of the plan. In detail, the elimination of yellow-labelled and older vehicles shall be accelerated and the vehicle energy consumption standards tightened.

The Central government is asking local governments to cooperate in the construction of a unified national air quality monitoring system to support plans to issue a monthly update of the ten best and ten worst cities regarding air quality.

An English translation of the full plan can be downloaded here:

“National Action Plan on Air Pollution Control”

It was translated by the Sino-German Environmental Partnership, funded by the German Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and managed by GIZ.

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