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Position:BCAA News»2016 China Air Quality Management Evaluation Report Released Accelerating Implementation of Paris Agreement and Clean Air Actions

2016 China Air Quality Management Evaluation Report Released Accelerating Implementation of Paris Agreement and Clean Air ActionsPost date: 2016-10-10

China and the US finally took the step to join the Paris Agreement, marked by President Xi Jinping and the US President Obama signing the global climate accord committing to finalize domestic legal respectively procedures and to cooperate with the other country in order to ratify the Paris Agreement. With this process proceeds, efforts on coping with climate change have been transformed from the former international negotiation to the current reducing emission with regard to specific countries. As majority of air pollutants and GHGs are derived from the same sources, air pollution control in China has made great contribution to addressing climate change through actively carrying out clean air action plans.

Earlier last month finally saw the publish of China Air Quality Management Evaluation Report 2016 during 2nd Bluetech Clean Air Media Workshop jointly  held by China Environmental Education Center and Innovation Center of Clear-air Solutions (ICCS). In this report released by Clean Air Alliance of China (CAAC), not only air quality management progress was illustrated from different perspectives, based on data covering 30 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities of Mainland China with the exception of Tibet due to lack of data, but also estimation was made with regard to the degree of challenges in air quality control for different regions. Also, under the implementation of some measures such as emission reduction of black carbon, VOCs and NH3,  carbon reduction was also achieved with the calculation of amount included in this report.  

While being the second key year after the introduction of Air Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan, 2015 is also the last year of the Twelfth Five-year Plan. On one hand, the air quality of 2015 is regarded as the basis of mid-term evaluation of the plan. On the other, it is also the benchmark of the Thirteenth Five-year Plan’s air quality improvement. This report aims to help local governments to understand their air pollution condition and performance differences, analyze difficulties and challenges they are facing with, and assist government entities to manage air quality systematically.  

Air quality:

Particulate matter pollution has decreased in general, while the pollution still exceeds the standard. Key areas of PM2.5 emission control including Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shandong, Shanxi, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Pearl River Delta Region and Chongqing has reached the average reduction of 11.34% on PM2.5 concentration. Among the key area, Pearl River Delta Region, Tianjin, Hebei, Shandong, Shanxi, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Chongqing have reached the PM2.5 reduction goal of 2017 set by the plan ahead of schedule. The emission of particulate matter is still serious. In Beijing, Tianjin, southern Hebei, non-coastal areas in Shandong, and Henan, merged to create one large block of severe PM2.5 pollution, followed by Yangtze Delta Region, Hunan, Hubei, Sichuan and Chongqing. Pearl River Delta Region has reached the standard. PM10 (inhalable particles) emission in Henan, Ningxia, Shanxi, Jilin, Liaoning, Hubei, Gansu has increased rather than decreased in 2015 compared with 2013.

Heavy pollution episodes still frequently appear during the heating period in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei and the surrounding region. Beijing put on red alert for the first time on Dec 8th, which relieved pollution accumulation to some extent. Hebei province published the first Guidelines for the Preparation of Emergency Response Operations for Heavy Pollution Episode, which would help to make the emergency response more scientific, practical and verifiable.

Emission control:

Overall SO2 emission in 2015 has reached in history since the implement of pollution control of Ninth Five-Year Plan. SO2 and NOX emission has reduced for 5.8% and 10.9% respectively compared with 2014. Ministry of Environmental Protection has published Mercury Pollution Control Technology Policy in order to give instructions on mercury emission control to related industries.

Because air pollutants and GHGs are from the same origin, these measures targeting on emissions of air pollutants such as regulations on coal burning and yellow-label vehicles would also help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Primary assessment reveals that annual VOCs (not including CFCs, HFCs, HCFCs) emission from anthropogenic source is equal to 250 million tons of CO2(carbon dioxide) emission, N2O(nitrous oxide) emission from agricultural source is equal to 150 million tons of CO2 emission, black carbon emission from diesel vehicle is equal to 280 million tons of CO2 emission, while CO2 and black carbon emission from straw burning is equal to 370 million tons of CO2 emission. Therefore, emission control of VOCs, ammonia, diesel vehicle particulate matter and straw burning would help to reduce air pollutant emission and mitigate climate change.

Air quality management:

Legislation standard: Law of the People's Republic of China on the Prevention and Control of Atmospheric Pollution was officially published in 2015.  In 2015 the central governments has published 12 environmental standards related to air pollution. The implementation of pollution charge increase and fine by days has achieved good results on pollution control using economic measures.

Information disclosure: More provinces and cities has published the assessment report of their annual plan, and also used social media for information disclosure and interactions.

Monitoring: 338 cities above perfecture-level have the ability to measure the 6 indexes including PM2.5. Some heavily polluted areas such as Shandong and Henan are still facing the insufficiency of monitoring spots.

Pioneer cases: Shenzhen has achieved on blue sky, low carbon and economic development through adjusting energy structure. Lanzhou has strengthened law enforcement, creating the famous “Lanzhou blue”. Their experiences may be referred and used by other cities and areas.

Difficulties of air management:

The self-purification ability of atmospheric pollution varies a lot in different areas in 2015. Most of the areas with strong ability of self- purification are often less polluted. From the aspect of industrial structure, the percentage of secondary industry to third industry has declined for all the 30 provinces (cities) in 2015 compared with the previous year, while the structure is still unbalanced, and the secondary industry is still bigger than the third industry in half of these provinces. The percentage of of industries with heavy pollution is still high in Qinghai, Xinjiang, Jiangxi, Ningxia and Hebei. Therefore the pressure to adjust industrial structure is high.

From the aspect of energy structure, in Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Ningxia, Guizhou, Anhui, Heibei and Shanxi, coal consumed more than 80% in primary energy in 2013. Coal consumption per unit area and energy consumption per 10,000 RMB GDP is different in different provinces. Although the percentage of coal consumption consisting of the overall energy consumption in 2015 has declined greatly compared with 2013, the data is still high (64%), which need further adjustment.

From the aspect of vehicle emission, except Beijing and Tianjin, the growth rates of private car ownership are all above 11% in 2013, which puts huge pressure for vehicle emission control.

The main suggestions of this report include:

1 Compile and implement scientific air quality attainment/improvement plan.

2 Cities which have achieved the standards on air quality should set new targets for the next period.

3 Further adjustment of energy structure and industrial structure should be achieved.

4 In Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, local governments would strengthen control on coal burning.

5 Local government should also strengthen the information disclosure on air quality index and pollution information.

This report is part of CAAC Air Management Series Reports. This series of reports compiled together by CAAC secretariat, CAAC member provinces and cities and CAAC experts applies CAAC management and evaluation tools to support Chinese provinces and cities to systematically evaluate their air quality management systems. The goal is to assist them in a sustainable manner to construct and ameliorate their quality management systems, and to select and implement efficient air quality management measures.

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