China Unveils 5-Year Anti-Pollution Plan: Reduce Pollutants, Better Ecology, Coal Control in 2020
China may have unveiled its strictest environmental protection system yet. The State Council has just released a national plan set to build environmental improvements that will reduce the concentration of PM2.5 particulate pollution in cities with poor air quality by 18 percent in 2020.
The national plan details improvements to the country's 13th Five-Year Plan Period for 2016 to 2020. It has a variety of tasks that will be set to clean up polluted air, water, and soil.
According to Xinhua, the plan also sets the goals for a more "environmentally-friendly way" of living. This includes reductions in major pollutants, a sounder ecological system by 2020 and effective control of environmental risks. It includes eight "obligatory" environmental quality targets for the first time in the history of the country's five-year plans.
Ma Jun, dean of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, said the plan will focus on overall improvements to environmental quality unlike previous plans. Ma added that a "red line" or a "bottom line" for ecological protection had to be reinforced by 2017 in order to achieve the target of supervisory and accountability systems for governments and enterprises.
According to Global Times, the plan will hopefully curb the drastic negative impact of pollution on the Chinese populace. Ma added that about 350,000 to 500,000 people die prematurely per year from air pollution in the country. Ma also said the country has strengthened the way it has tackled air pollution since September 2013 when the State Council released an air pollution prevention and control action plan.
However, according to China.org, different places in the country face different problems, even within the same region. This means the governance capacities also vary per region, which can pose great challenges in management.
Beijing's information office also released an updated emergency response plan for severe air pollution in late November. To be effective on Dec. 15, the plan will restrict the usage of certain vehicles.
North China's Hebei Province will also have stricter standards, even compared to national and industry standards, on energy consumption and pollutant emissions from the iron and steel, electric power, coal and chemical enterprises.
The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region also created a cooperative mechanism in 2013 for a joint emergency response to heavy air pollution and information sharing. They are required to draw a red line for ecological protection by the end of 2017.
It is expected that coal use in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shandong, Henan, and regions near the Pearl River Delta should drop by around 10 percent during the 2016-2020 period.