Image credit: @chrisuk.
In what might as well be a regular feature, “What’s killing us in China today?”, Greenpeace has released a report highlighting the worryingly high levels of PM2.5 (particles with an aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 μm) concentration in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xi’an and Beijing.
In Shanghai alone, Greenpeace estimates that there will be 3,317 deaths caused by PM2.5 if the concentration remains at 2010 levels, as well as an economic losses of over 2 billion yuan.
If the pollution level remains at the 2010 level, the total number of deaths resulted from PM2.5 pollution in Shanghai in 2012 would be 3,317, and related economic loss would reach nearly 420 million USD. If Shanghai can meet level 2 or level 1 of national AQG or the WHO AQG in 2012, such deaths would be reduced by 867, 2,267 and 2,617 respectively. There would also be a decrease of 26.1%, 68.3% and 78.9% respectively over no PM2.5 concentration improvement made (3,317 deaths). And the economic benefits would reach 110, 287 and 331 million USD respectively.
Greenpeace makes a number of policy suggestions to tackle the PM2.5 problem:
1. Cap regional coal consumption
2. De-NOx retrofit for existing coal-fired power plants
3. Shutdown inefficient coal-fired industrial boilers
4. Improving environmental policies
While the latter three may gain some traction, the likelihood of capping regional coal consumption is next to nil, even if Beijing were to issue such a cap it has shown itself in the past to be somewhat powerless in getting regional and local government to actually enforce environmental protections, let alone in an industry as profitable to officials as coal.
Read the Greenpeace report, ‘Dangerous Breathing’ in full (pdf).