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Beijing pollution fight 'greater than for Olympics' (2)

By  Zhao Huanxin (China Daily)

10:36, March 13, 2013

These projects, fueled by natural gas, will be built by relocating or upgrading existing coal-burning plants and will be completed by 2015, he said.

"Money pooled to the projects may amount to several billion yuan each, and the cost of operation will be higher than using coal," he said.

In addition, the city will replace traditional coal-burning stoves with electric radiators for 44,000 families. The efforts will go some way toward making Beijing free of coal, he said.

"I can tell you the scale and multitude of investment in anti-pollution measures exceeds that for the Beijing Olympics," Ji said.

With the service industry contributing 76 percent to the local economy, Beijing is endowed with a solid foundation to pursue a healthier development model, according to Ji.

"Combating air pollution and protecting the environment will also contribute to GDP growth."

In recent years the city has used more electric buses and has promoted new-energy cars.

The city plans to phase out at least 180,000 outdated automobiles this year and encourages more government organizations and public transport service providers to use new-energy cars and buses, he said.

With hazy skies usually shrouding vast swathes of northern China and wind sweeping pollutants from place to place, Ji said it is important for the capital to work with its neighbors in tackling the issue.

The excellent air quality during the 2008 Olympics was partly brought about by neighboring cities working together with Beijing to curb pollution under a coordinating mechanism, he said.

"There should have been an authoritative department invested with the power of making trans-regional anti-pollution strategy," Ji said.

Beijing's Vice-Mayor Li Shixiang was quoted by the Beijing News as saying that on average a quarter of Beijing's PM2.5 pollutants came from its neighbors.

The proposed authority to coordinate anti-pollution measures in Beijing and neighboring areas could be designated by the State Council. For example, such an authority could be delegated to the National Development and Reform Commission, or the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Li said.

Zhang Qingwei, governor of Hebei, said his province is keen to cooperate with Beijing, Tianjin, Shanxi and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region to reduce air pollution.

"We've been very successful in controlling PM10 particles in the air; we are stepping up surveillance and control of PM2.5 particulates," the governor said.

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