A Chinese official charged with cleaning up China’s notoriously smoggy skies has stated the obvious, meeting 2017 air quality targets is going to be tough.
“Currently the air pollution control work is challenging and complex,” Reuters quotes Li Ganjie, minister of environmental protection, as saying earlier this week as he toured some of China’s most polluted provinces. “The completion of the annual targets for air quality control faces huge difficulties.”
Li noted that while air quality in some areas in China had shown significant improvement, in other areas — such as Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei — it had in fact worsened. Overall, data shows that over the first six months of 2017, China’s 338 largest cities experienced clean air days 74.1 percent of the time, down 2.6 percentage points from last year.
In 2017, China has pledged to cut PM2.5 levels in the air by more than 15 percent in 28 northern cities in the coming winter months. To help achieve this goal, the government has done things like switch millions of homes in northern China from coal furnaces to gas boilers, halt new projects in heavily-polluted “red zones” and ban construction projects this winter in cities like Beijing.
And yet, that still likely won’t be enough to save northern China from annual airpocalypses which threaten the health of residents. A recent study by the University of Chicago found that people in northern China live three years less than their southern counterparts because of health problems resulting from breathing in too much PM2.5.
Looks like it’s time to stock up on bags of refreshing Tibetan Plateau air.
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