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Beijing pollution plan 'falls far short'

By Deng Jingyin (Global Times)

14:20, April 23, 2012

Beijing's plans to clean up its air by cutting PM2.5 emissions by 30 percent by 2020 would still fall short of the national standard, a city environmental official revealed in a television interview.

Yu Jianhua, head of the atmospheric environment department at the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Environmental Protection, announced that the pollution reduction plan seeks to reduce the yearly PM2.5 average emissions in the city from 70 micrograms per cubic meter to just 50 micrograms by 2020, representing a 30 percent cut.

"However, the national standard is set at 30 micrograms per cubic meter, so even by 2020, Beijing would not reach it," Yu was quoted as saying by CCTV.

The Beijing Municipal Government has promised to set up a PM2.5 monitoring network this year.

"Currently, the public can access data released by the monitoring station online or through other media. The number of PM2.5 monitoring stations on Beijing streets will be increased to 35 by the end of 2012, while a satellite remote sensing system will be established to oversee air conditions," Yu noted.

Amid increasing public concern over worsening air quality, the municipal government launched the much-expected PM2.5 measure of air quality in January.

"The future looks bleak. We have to live with air that still won't meet the national standard in 18 years, can you imagine that?" Qi Feng, 29, a Beijing resident, told the Global Times yesterday.

Beijing's air quality ranked third from the bottom among 31 provincial capitals and municipalities, according to the China Environment Green Paper released Thursday by Friends of Nature, an environmental protection NGO.

Ma Jun, director of Beijing-based nonprofit Institute for Public and Environmental Affairs, told the Global Times yesterday that he sees it as positive that local authorities passed a plan to slash PM2.5.

"The 18-year prediction seems hopeless, but we should understand that we face great challenges in dealing with PM2.5 pollution, which will be harder and slower as time goes by. Foreign countries also have required a long time to reach this goal," Ma said.

He pointed out that the primary responsibility for improving environmental conditions still lies with the public.

"The government has disclosed the data and set up a network for supervision, so from now on, the public should be much more involved in driving pollution control reform," he said.

He suggested that the government issue alarms for schools on serious pollution days and pinpoint major pollution sources.

"Only once the public is informed, can they take measures to deal with it in their daily lives," he explained.

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