SHANGHAI, Jun 21 (SMM) – China is likely to implement a three-year initiative to “make skies blue again”, Zhao Yingmin, vice-minister of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) said at a state policy briefing on Wednesday June 20.
The initiative aims to sharply lower levels of PM2.5 in three years, reduce the number of heavy-polluted days and improve air quality. Key sectors targeted in the initiative include steel, thermal energy and construction materials, with crackdowns on illegal small plants that fail to abide by local industrial layout plans and that lack pollution treatment facilities.
Levels of PM2.5 particles will be controlled across the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and surrounding areas, the Yangtze River Delta area and the Fenhe-Weihe plain during autumn and winter. The Yangtze River Delta area covers Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces and the Fenhe-Weihe plain covers Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces.
PM2.5 are tiny airborne particulate matter that has been linked to lung cancer, asthma and heart disease. Such high levels of fine particulate matter are especially common in north China in autumn and winter.
With this initiative and ongoing environmental crackdowns, SMM believes that environmentally-driven production cuts will continue and that authorities are unlikely to relax their stance in the near future.
In an opening address to the National People's Congress on March 5, 2017, Premier Li Keqiang pledged to step up China’s battle against smog and “make our skies blue again”.
As of June 15, six central government inspection teams across 10 provinces have received over 12,000 tip-offs and taken action on some 10,600 of them, according to the MEE. Some 640 plants received fines that totalled 58.07 million yuan and about 630 people have been held accountable so far.