The central government has laid out a new plan to decrease industrial pollution and reduce toxic airborne particles, with a chief short-term goal set at cutting the density of inhalable particulate matter by 10 percent in the next three years. Forgive us for being cynical, but if the AQI drops from 600 to 540, we’re not particularly impressed.
One of the key components to the new anti-pollution legislation is to continue using coal, but with a stronger emphasis on “more coal-based substitute natural gas and clean coal.” The country’s coal production is still increasing, but at a slow 1% per year. The new guidelines hope to promote natural gas development which, although hardly a consequence-free energy source, could significantly help the country’s air.
We are the most excited about plans that should drop PM2.5 levels by 25% before 2017, if all goes well. This mostly hinges on restructuring China’s coal infrastructure, which is the biggest, dirtiest, pollutin’ist sector of the nation’s economy.
Unlike Hong Kong’s announcement yesterday to “drastically improve” its air quality by 2020, these national guidelines don’t once mention vehicle emissions. A large chunk of the Hong Kong plan rests on adopting the European Union’s standards for emissions, while the mainland plan (or, at least, the parts of the mainland plan that have so far been released) focus almost entirely on macro issues like energy production. There is a brief mention of a “traffic congestion fee,” but that doesn’t exactly sound like an airtight solution.
There is nothing we’d like better than to see real fixes for China’s smog problems, but this latest legislation doesn’t seem to make the cut. Forgive us, central government, but by 2017 we’ll still be wearing masks.