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China readies air quality warning system for major cities
October 2, 2013, 8:25 am


Choking smog engulfed some of China’s major cities earlier this year [Xinhua]

Responding to growing concerns over environmental degradation, China has announced plans to put in place an air quality warning system in the heavily-polluted cities of Beijing, Tianjin and surrounding areas in November.

China’s Meteorological Administration and the Ministry of Environmental Protection jointly released the plan that puts the alert system at three levels – I being the highest and III the lowest.

When the air quality index is set to go beyond 500, a level I warning will issued, and level II and III are for the index to be at between 300 to 500, 200 to 300, respectively, for three consecutive days.

Choking smog engulfed some of China’s major cities earlier this year.

The government also aims to cut the density of inhalable particulate matter by at least 10 per cent in major cities nationwide by 2017.

In Beijing, the concentration of airborne particles, called PM 2.5, in January this year averaged nine times the safe level defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

China had earlier this month announced an ambitious plan to set limits on burning coal and taking high-polluting vehicles off the roads.

A recent committee report from the National People’s Congress, cautions that as China steps up its industrialisation and urbanisation drive, environmental pollution and ecological degradation may worsen.

Li Shuo, Climate & Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace China, says growing public anger immediately placed environmental affairs at the very forefront of the political agenda of the new leadership as they took charge of the country this January.

“It also arguably created an “institutional memory” for the new leadership, in which their daily agenda during the very first days in office was preoccupied by environmental upheavals. The environmental deficit left by the previous administration was now biting back. The new administration was left with no other choice than to tackle the problem head on,” Shuo told The BRICS Post.

PM 2.5, a key indicator of air pollution, should fall by about 25 per cent from 2012 levels in Beijing and surrounding provincial areas by 2017, according to a recent government plan.

China had in July announced allocating over three trillion yuan ($489.3 billion) to combat the growing pollution of the country’s water and environment.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies