China’s dreadful air pollution seems to have got a bit better
6 November 2017
China has taken some baby steps towardscleaning up its horrendous （可怕的=dreadful） air pollution – but there is a long way still to go.
Eastern China, especially Beijing, is notorious for (因…臭名昭著) its smogs, driven by the country’s rapidindustrialization（工业化发展）. On FridayBeijing issued an orange smog alert（发布橘色雾霾警报）, the second highest danger level. By Monday, levels of PM2.5 – pollution consisting of tiny particles 2.5 micrometres across or less – were up to 158 micrograms per cubic metre. Similarly high levels triggered orange alerts in Tianjin and some cities in Henan, Hebei, Shandong and Shanxi provinces, according to the Xinhuanews agency.
In 2013, horrendous Beijing smogsprompted(促使) a national outcry（强烈抗议） and the launch of a comprehensive air pollution control plan. According to a new study, this plan has had some success – despite the ongoing smogs.
The study used satellite measurements（利用卫星测量） to estimate pollution concentrations(污染浓度). It claims that PM2.5 levels fell nationally by 21 per cent between 2013 and 2015, going from 60.5 to 47.5 micrograms of PM2.5 per cubic metre of air. That is still way (adv.大大地) higher than the World Health Organization’s recommended limit of 10 micrograms per cubic metre. Average levels in Europemostly remain below 25 micrograms.
Nevertheless, the reduction should have cut the number of associated deaths from heart attacks and strokes by nine per cent, from 1.22 to 1.10 million.
“Our study marks the first estimate of the impact of this stringent action plan（迫切的行动计划） on pollution levels andmortality rates（死亡率） from 2013 to 2015,” says lead author Yixuan Zheng of Tsinghua University in Beijing.
“Given pollution concentrations are veryweather-dependent（取决于天气）, the jury is still out on whether this is a real step forward to China achieving clean air, but it’s certainly an encouraging move (令人鼓舞的举措) in the right direction if correct,” saysFrank Kelly of Kings College London, UK.
According to official figures, Beijing cut its PM2.5 levels to 60 micrograms per cubic metre for the first nine months of this year. That is 3.2 per cent down on last year and 34.8 per cent down from 2013. This week, Beijing’s authorities began testing the last of four gas-burning power stations（气体燃烧的发电厂）, which collectively will cut thecity’s coal consumption （cut coal consumption 减少煤炭消耗） by 9.2 million tonnes a year, according to Xinhua.
Still, senior members of China’s central government admit that it could take until 2035 to meet their air-quality targets（达成空气质量目标）. “People should be patient about improvements in air quality, as it will take time to solve such a big problem,” said minister of environmental protection Li Ganjie at the Party Congress of the Communist Party in October. “We understand that current air quality fails to（未能）meet people’s expectations（满足人们的期望）.”