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Pearl River Delta

Bloomberg: Hong Kong’s Pollution Near 6-Month High (Nov 2013)

from David Ingles, reporting for Bloomberg on the high levels of air pollutants in Hong Kong’s air last month.

Jason Lerwill, an air specialist at Renaud Lifestyle Products (retailers for air purifier systems), mentions three major contributors to air pollutants in the city: shipping in the Pearl River Delta, roadside pollution, and factory emissions across the border. Christine Loh, undersecretary for the environment, speaks enthusiastically about policies to reduce vehicle emissions, but mentions nothing about shipping and factory emissions.

4 Nov 2013

Airline Representatives official distorts Third Runway debate as ‘Environment vs Economy’, pours out the kool-aid.

Mr. Joe Ng, vice-chairman of the Board of Airline Representatives of Hong Kong, wrote in to the SCMP to weigh in on the debate regarding the Third Runway proposal of the Hong Kong Airport:

The current discussion around the proposed three-runway system at Hong Kong International Airport is focused on the potential impacts on the environment.

The environmental lobby and those living near the airport have raised valid concerns about the potential impact on local ecology, noise disturbance and air quality. But there is also the validity of the overall need for a third runway to consider.

Not only is Hong Kong International Airport a major transport hub, it is also vital to the city’s continued prosperity as an economic powerhouse. This brings benefits to everyone in Hong Kong, not just airline passengers or cargo shippers.

It also generates vital benefits through connections between cities and markets that enable foreign direct investment, business development and other spillover benefits that help Hong Kong thrive. Currently, aviation is worth HK$88.9 billion to Hong Kong, representing 5.5 per cent of gross domestic product.


Mingpao: HKIA admits new runway will affect habitats of white dolphins

Ahead of a study on the environmental impacts of the proposed Third Runway Project to be completed by the end of the year, the Hong Kong Airport Authority has released its findings on the potential impacts to the Chinese white dolphin population native to the Pearl River Estuary.

The study finds that reclamation works for the new runway will affect the usual movement patterns of the dolphins which forage around the waters off the Brothers Islands and Northwestern Lantau Island.

HKIA’s analysis claims that the population density and numbers of the dolphins in the areas north and west of the airport can only be classified as ‘medium’ and ‘low’. Overall data indicates a continual decline in the numbers of the white dolphin in the waters around the airport, with a longitudinal study released by HKIA yesterday finding that, within the waters of the proposed reclamation project, in the past year, a total of 215 dolphins were tracked in 62 pods, with each pod numbering 1 to 14 dolphins.

Additionally, the number of dolphins tracked in the areas north and west of the airport was recorded at an average of 11 dolphins per 100 km2, lower than the numbers of 67 and 44 dolphins per 100 km2 recorded by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department off the coasts of northwestern and western Lantau Island respectively.

Chinese white dolphin sightings in Hong Kong. The proposed reclamation area is shown to be a hotspot for the dolphins. (Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society)

The HKIA, however, admits that if the project receives the go-ahead, the channel used by dolphins for moving between the waters of Long Kwu Chau and the Brothers Islands will be obstructed by the reclamation area jutting out into the channel, forcing their movement paths north.


Proposed 3rd runway on Chek Lap Kok creates more problems than the one that AAHK allege exists

The Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK)’s recent proposal to reclaim more land in the Pearl River Estuary to build a third runway has come under much flak, and perhaps rightly so. The AAHK is alleging that, based on the continued growth of air traffic volume in the past years, Chek Lap Kok’s capacity will be saturated by 2030. It seems obviously necessary to expand Chek Lap Kok, but this narrative is less appealing when one considers several other events at play: Chek Lap Kok is currently running only at about 65% capacity; neighbouring airports in Shenzhen and Guangzhou are aggressively expanding, providing fierce competition for the growth pie that is being projected; the airways around Chek Lap Kok are already congested in part because of this competition; poor economic horizon is on the horizon, which will affect airline profits; a growing market to consume internally China’s produce rather than exporting, reducing the demand for cargo shipment.

Rapidly expanding airports in Guangzhou and Shenzhen competes with Chek Lap Kok for both airspace and business. (Shenzhen Media Group)

Of course, AAHK can choose to ignore these warning signs and continue drinking the kool-aid. But they cannot ignore the very real problems that building the Third Runway is going to cause:

  • The increase in simultaneous air traffic is going to generate a lot more noise pollution, a concern for Tung Chung residents not just as annoyance but quite possibly a direct health hazard.
  • The reclamation work required for the runway expansion is huge, and will severely impact pink dolphins native to the Pearl River Estuary. This concern has already been thrown out of the window during the proposals for building the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge and should not be ignored again.
  • The expansion comes into a direct conflict of interest with Shenzhen’s cargo shipping network. Height restrictions on cargo ships passing through shipping channels in the vicinity of the airway will come into play, which will deeply displease Shenzhen’s port development authorities. Incidentally, they are already fuming over a failed proposal to expand the waterways near Chek Lap Kok, which the Hong Kong government rejected on precisely the environmental concerns for the pink dolphins that they themselves now ignore; Shenzhen officials see this slight as Hong Kong’s tactics to stave off competition.

AAHK’s representative saw fit to address only the issue of cargo shipping space, and even there, all there is is a single vague assurance: “putting in place an appropriate administrative arrangement between the relevant authorities in Hong Kong and Shenzhen”; no evidence that they have given the real problems substantial thought.

James Middleton makes a simple and salient point: it would be easier and cheaper to soundproof every single Tung Chung residence and change Chek Lap Kok’s from an 18-h to a 24-h airport, than to build a new runway.

It's probably easier to soundproof all apartments in Tung Chung than to build a third runway. (Square Foot)

Decision makers would do well to step back from dreaming of grand projects and justifying their legitimacy with visions of problems, while ignoring the real problems they would cause.

Click here for more coverage on this issue:

Pearl Delta at high risk in event of natural disaster, says insurer

Thursday, 19 September, 2013, 6:18pm

NewsHong Kong

Audrey Yoo

PRD is the third riskiest urban community in the world in terms of the population that would be affected by natural catastrophes

The Pearl River Delta is one of world’s most vulnerable urban areas because of the large number of people who could be affected by natural disasters, according to a report published on Wednesday by the Swiss Reinsurance Company.

Guangdong’s Pearl River Delta is the third riskiest urban community in the world in terms of the population that would be affected by natural catastrophes, noted the Mind the Risk report, which was Swiss Re’s first ranking of cities under threat from disasters.

In the case of the Pearl River Delta, earthquakes are not prevalent, but freshwater floods, storm surges and strong winds are

Peter Hausmann, Swiss Re

“In the case of the Pearl River Delta, earthquakes are not prevalent, but freshwater floods, storm surges and strong winds are,” Peter Hausmann, the head of Swiss Re’s Cat Perils Europe Hub, told the South China Morning Post.

For the survey, the reinsurance group analysed its data on five catastrophes – earthquakes, storms, coastal storm surges, tsunamis, and river floods – to calculate human exposure to disasters in 616 of the world’s largest urban areas.

The report took into account major risk scenarios that rarely happen in the Pearl River Delta, but when all the disasters are considered a total of 34.5 million people in the delta would be affected, including fatalities, injuries and evacuations, it said.

In the survey, some 42 million residents of Hong Kong, Macau, Shenzhen, Dongguan and Guangzhou are counted as part of the delta, which is most vulnerable to river floods, coastal storm surges and storms.

Earthquake risk in the Pearl River Delta, however, is “almost inexistent” and the probability of a tsunami hitting the area is “relatively low”, said the report.

The Japanese metropolitan area of Tokyo-Yokohama topped the list as the riskiest urban community in the world, as disasters could affect some 57.1 million people there.

The Philippine capital of Manila ranked No 2, with 34.6 million people at risk.

Osaka-Kobe, Jakarta, Nagoya, Kolkata, Los Angeles and Tehran are also among the world’s 10 most vulnerable urban communities.

Urban areas in Australia and eastern Latin America and most regions of Africa are relatively safe from natural catastrophes, added the report.

Hong Kong’s deadliest natural disaster in the past century was the Great Typhoon of 1937 on September 2, 1937 when a storm killed 11,000 people.

From 1980 to 2010, 58 natural catastrophes hit the city and an average of 1,649 Hongkongers were affected each year, according to the International Disaster Database.

Because the Pearl River Delta is most vulnerable to storms and coastal storm surges, “regional protection measures like river dykes or seawalls, adequate building standards, evacuation plans and financial measures for the government and the citizens are most important,” Hausmann suggested.


Letters to the Editor, February 28, 2013

Submitted by admin on Feb 28th 2013, 12:00am


Air pollution in delta region not worse

We would like to point out that the article “Smog in Pearl Delta ‘worse than Beijing'” (February 21) misrepresented how air pollution in the Pearl River Delta should be understood.

For those of us who study air quality in the delta, the air pollution there is not worse than that in Beijing.

The article misquoted one of the undersigned, who had merely explained the different causes of PM2.5 in the two places. Coal burning and photochemical smog are the main causes of air pollution in the northern part of the mainland, while photochemical smog is the main cause in the Pearl River Delta.

As a result of joint efforts of the Guangdong and Hong Kong governments to reduce the emissions in the delta, with the support of scientific research institutes in Hong Kong, the Pearl River Delta and Beijing, the particulate level in the delta was reduced by 14 per cent between 2006 and 2011, as registered by the Pearl River Delta’s regional air quality monitoring network.

Last November, the Hong Kong and Guangdong governments agreed to set emission reduction targets for 2015 and 2020, in respect of four major air pollutants, including respirable suspended particles.

Both governments will continue to work in partnership to improve the air quality of the Pearl River Delta region.

Professor Wu Dui, Institute of Tropical and Marine Meteorology, China Meteorological Agency, Guangzhou; Professor Zhong Liuju, Guangdong Provincial Environmental Monitoring Centre, Guangdong; Dave Ho, principal environmental protection officer, Environmental Protection Department, Hong Kong

Smog in Pearl River Delta ‘worse than in Beijing’ [1]

Source URL (retrieved on Feb 28th 2013, 6:17am):


Wage increase to push Hong Kong factories out of Pearl delta

Submitted by admin on Feb 6th 2013, 12:00am

Business›China Business


Anita Lam

Minimum salary in Guangdong is expected to rise 15pc, double the province’s GDP growth

Hong Kong manufacturers operating in the Pearl River Delta may speed up relocating their factories elsewhere as the minimum wage in Guangdong is expected to nearly double the province’s gross domestic product growth this year.

Stanley Lau Chin-ho, a vice-chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, who discussed the issue with the province’s officials yesterday, said the wage increase would be higher than the nation’s average annual rise of 13 per cent.

The Hong Kong Chinese Importers’ and Exporters’ Association expects a 15 per cent gain in minimum wages.

Guangdong’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said last week that it would announce its wage increase plans after the Lunar New Year.

A number of cities and provinces, including Beijing, Shanghai, Zhejiang and Shanxi, plan to raise minimum wages by 11 to 17 per cent this year.

Shenzhen’s minimum wage is expected to rise the most in the country, averaging 20 per cent annually in the next three years. The local government has said the minimum salary must reach 2,650 yuan (HK$3,290) by 2015, up 76 per cent from last year.

Chong Shing-hum, the president of the Hong Kong Chinese Importers’ and Exporters’ Association, said the minimum wage in Guangdong would amount to 1,495 yuan this year as there were no increases last year.

“It’s getting more difficult for us to survive in the [Pearl delta]. Appreciation of the yuan and receding prices in the US and Europe have already squeezed our profit margin. A lot of my friends are seeking to relocate their businesses,” Chong said.

The expected double-digit growth in the minimum wage would come even as the provincial government cut its economic growth forecast to 8 per cent this year from 8.5 per cent earlier. The central government has stipulated that the minimum wage should increase faster than a province’s GDP growth target for the year.

Despite rising wages, manufacturers in the delta are still expected to lose up to 1 million workers following the Lunar New Year holiday, according to Guangdong’s human resources ministry. But it said that would amount to just 6.25 per cent of the province’s total workforce.


Minimum Wage

Pearl River Delta

Hong Kong factories


Source URL (retrieved on Feb 21st 2013, 2:35pm):

Delta leads nation on dirty-air data

Regional partners, including Hong Kong, team up to unveil real-time readings on toxic fine particles
Shi Jiangtao in Beijing and Cheung Chi-fai
Mar 09, 2012

The Pearl River Delta is a step ahead in releasing up-to-the-hour information on microscopic pollutants across the region, including Hong Kong, as it seeks to clear the air on a pressing environmental threat.

Hong Kong and Guangdong province yesterday published on government websites key particle readings from the country’s largest network for air-quality detection, consisting of 31 stations.

Xiamen in Fujian province also released yesterday’s air-quality readings from its three monitoring stations.

The fine particles, known as PM 2.5, are widely seen as more hazardous to health compared to larger particles because of their ability to penetrate blood vessels directly. PM2.5 refers to particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter.

An environmental expert says the release of data was a symbolic and significant move clearly meant to answer concerns about pollution and reverse widespread distrust of official air readings. It also sets an example for the rest of the country, says Professor Chen Zunrong, from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou.

“It is a major step forward in promoting transparency of government information that will help the public understand the truth about air pollution,” Chen said.

Hourly and 24-hour average readings of the fine particles at 17 stations in the delta region and 14 stations in Hong Kong can now be viewed on the websites of the Guangdong Environment Protection Bureau and Hong Kong’s Environmental Protection Department. Hong Kong already publishes online the levels of other pollutants, such as ozone and nitrogen dioxide.

Neither website covers readings from across the border.

Chen said other regions, especially major cities, were expected to feel the heat and learn from the delta on how it was seeking to control air pollution.

Shanghai plans to publish data on fine particles from June, while Tianjin has yet to unveil a timetable.

Chen believed the public would have greater expectations for clear air, which could translate to heightened pressure on local authorities in tackling rampant pollution.

“Information transparency will certainly help the government curb pollution, like what we have seen in Hong Kong,” he said.

The launch came just days after the central government released revised national standards on air quality, covering the smog-inducing fine particles.

Fine particles had long been omitted from the country’s pollution parameters. But it was at the centre of a national outcry last year when the government’s secrecy over smog problems in major cities caused concern.

In January, Beijing became the first city on the mainland to publish the fine particles readings. However, the data, based on a single monitoring station, was widely seen as incomplete and ineffective in gauging the capital’s serious smog problems.

Mainland environmentalists hailed the latest move of publishing data as a landmark step in the delta’s synergy on pollution control and transparency. Green activists in Hong Kong welcomed it with caution, particularly over what they said were lax standards on pollution data.

Zhou Rong, a Greenpeace China campaigner, said residents of the delta region should be grateful that Hong Kong played a critical role in facilitating the data’s release.

Zhou said “the decision to release the pollution data could be largely attributed to the push from Hong Kong and environmental awareness in the region”.

Zhou noted that Guangdong had done a better job in researching and taking action against pollution than other regions over the years.

The province has been at the forefront of tackling air pollution through co-operation with Hong Kong. In 2002, both sides signed a pact to reduce emissions by up to 55 per cent below 1997 levels by 2010.

Helen Choy Shuk-yee, of the Clean Air Network, welcomed the disclosure but was concerned about lax standards on fine particles being introduced no earlier than 2014 in revised air quality objectives.

Choy said none of the readings at the 14 Hong Kong monitoring stations exceeded the proposed standard, at 75 micrograms on a 24-hour average. If standards were tightened to meet World Health Organisation guidelines at 25 micrograms, up to six stations, including all three roadside stations in Causeway Bay, Mong Kok and Central, would fail.

A spokeswoman for the Environmental Protection Department said the fine particle concentration yesterday was within the normal range. She said there was a 17 per cent drop in the fine particles level between 2005 and 2011.

Pearl River Delta TO release PM 2.5 in March – People’s Daily Online

Clear the Air says:

We welcome the actions and decision by the Government of China in listening to the discontent of its Beijing citizens and taking appropriate and rapid action to release this data on killer PM2.5 particulates in real time.

Hong Kong has followed suit today although it has been monitoring PM2.5 data for a far longer period than the Mainland; however continued prevarication by this Administration prevented the release of such data to the Hong Kong public.

The real time release of this PM2.5 data in the PRD will provide significant data for the Government of Hong Kong to use in its PATH computer modelling program system that tracks transboundary pollution sources.

We will then be able to see just how much PM2.5 pollution emanates from the PRD  versus local sources.

Of significance is the fact that approximately 31% of airborne RSP in Hong Kong is believed to come from ocean going vessels and shipping within our waters whilst we have yet to mandate an Emissions Control Area (ECA) together with the PRD to force shipping to use low sulphur fuel instead of high sulphur bunker slops in the ECA.

We urge the Environment Minister Edward Yau to use his power under Section 7 (3) of the Air Pollution Control Ordinance to gazette the new Air Quality Standards into law without waiting till 2014.

HK commences PM2.5 hourly reporting

Updated: 2012-03-08 12:20


HONG KONG – Hong Kong’s Environmental Protection Department (EPD) said on Thursday it will commenced the regular reporting in real time of fine suspended particulates (also known as PM2.5) from March 8, and the data can be accessed on the EPD website.

The data will reveal the hourly concentrations of PM2.5 as measured by the EPD’s air quality monitoring network, which comprises 11 general stations and three roadside stations.

A spokesman for the EPD said, “In anticipation of the inclusion of PM2.5 as a new criteria pollutant in the proposed new Air Quality Objectives (AQOs), we have progressively acquired new PM2. 5 monitors to extend continuous PM2.5 measurements to all air quality monitoring stations. The installation and testing of the new PM2.5 monitors has now been completed.”

According to the spokesman, to better understand the situation with regard to PM2.5 in Hong Kong, the EPD has been monitoring the pollutant since 1999 at three of its general air monitoring stations. And another general station was later added in 2005.

The monitoring results show that the level of PM2.5 in Hong Kong has reduced by 17 percent from 2005 to 2011. The spokesman said, this progress was owed to the control measures jointly implemented by the Hong Kong and Guangdong Governments in recent years.

The spokesman added that they will continue to collaborate with the Guangdong Provincial Government on emission reduction measures to further reduce the levels of particulates and other pollutants in Hong Kong.

Copyright By All rights reserved

Early start on PM2.5 monitoring

Updated: 2012-03-08 07:47

By Li Wenfang and Wang Zhenghua (China Daily)

Environmental authorities of Guangdong province plan to start releasing PM2.5 readings on Thursday, an early-bird approach to meeting the stricter national air quality requirements.

The State Council announced last week that stricter standards would be adopted in cities, including readings for ozone and concentrations of PM2.5 – particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter – which is considered more hazardous to health than larger particles.

Guangdong’s initial readings will come from 17 monitoring stations in the Pearl River Delta.

Readings at other stations in the delta would be made public by June 5, with those from all stations in the province available in 2014, said Li Qing, director of the provincial environmental protection bureau, at a work conference on Monday.

Given the marked air pollution in the delta, the number of days with air quality that meet the standards in Guangdong will fall 10 to 30 percent after the new standards are adopted, Li said.

Guangdong’s announcement came after Premier Wen Jiabao said in his work report on Monday that China will start monitoring PM2.5 in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta and in other key areas, like municipalities directly under the central government, and provincial capital cities this year.

As an economic powerhouse of China, Guangdong faces an uphill task in environmental protection. With a large increase of output from coal-fired power plants last year, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide compound emissions went up, heightening the pressure to fulfill the emission reduction task in the 2011-15 period, according to the provincial environmental protection bureau.

Authorities will tighten clean air legislation this year, strengthening the treatment of emissions from automobiles and coal-fired power plants. They will also phase out obsolete capacities in industries involving furnaces, paper making, printing and dyeing, chemicals, construction materials and cement.

An investment of 100 million yuan ($15.8 million) is needed to enable all 97 national monitoring stations in Guangdong to test the air for PM2.5, in addition to staff recruitment and training.

In Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, daily air quality reports in line with the new standards, including PM2.5 readings, will be issued on the websites of the environmental authorities starting Thursday.

The new standards further emphasize public health guidelines and will serve as reference to the public in arranging their lives and outings, said Yang Liu, deputy director of the city environmental protection bureau, in a statement released Monday night.

He said city authorities will strengthen the control of automobile emissions and industrial pollutants, among other measures.

“The release should help improve air quality but the efforts should not stop here. I hope the government will increase transparency to make the data more convincing and will step up the supervision of the polluters,” said a university student in Guangzhou who identified herself only as Huang.

Following Guangdong, the financial center of Shanghai vowed to complete a monitoring network for PM 2.5 in June and focus on cutting emissions from vehicles and power plants – two major sources of the city’s pollutants.

The local environment protection department said about 25 percent of the city’s PM2.5 comes from car emissions, as a large amount of small pollutants are discharged from diesel-fueled vehicles on the road. The amount increases if the drivers of these vehicles adopt bad driving habits such as frequent sudden acceleration and braking.

Official statistics showed that Shanghai still has more than 200,000 “yellow-label cars” – heavy-polluting vehicles – discharging 20 to 30 times more pollutants than green-label cars.

Another 20 percent of PM2.5 in the city’s air comes from the chemical industrial process and industrial boilers and furnaces.

As such, the city plans to phase out 150,000 yellow-label cars by the end of 2014, and raise emission standards for newly registered cars, while providing sufficient approved-quality refined oil.

To fight pollution from thermal power plants, the city proposed cutting emissions by upgrading filtering and denitration facilities.

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Liang Qianyun in Guangzhou contributed to this story.

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Pearl River Delta TO release PM 2.5 in March

(People’s Daily)

16:25, March 07, 2012 

Edited and translated by People’s Daily Online

Seventeen automatic air quality monitoring stations in the Pearl River Delta in southern China’s Guangdong province will begin releasing monitoring results, including PM2.5 readings, according to new national air quality standards later in March.

Other monitoring stations in the region will adopt the new standards from World Environment Day on June 5, according to information from the Guangdong Conference of Environmental Protection Bureau Chiefs, which kicked off on March 5.

China’s new air quality standards include an index for PM2.5, particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. The Pearl River Delta was ordered to start monitoring PM2.5 this year. In addition to the Pearl River Delta, many cities in Guangdong is busy installing PM2.5 monitoring equipment, in hopes of implementing the new standards ahead of deadline and forming a monitoring network throughout the province.

It is estimated that the percentage of cities in Guangdong meeting the new air quality standards will drop by 10 to 30 percent. In order to improve air quality, the province will strengthen the regulation of the sales of environmental protection facilities, and improve social operations of automatic air quality monitoring at wastewater treatment plants and thermal power plants with a capacity of more than 300 megawatts.

Beijing Joins Neighboring Regions in PM2.5 Control

2012-03-07 17:48:41 Xinhua Web Editor: sunwanming

Beijing has joined five neighboring provincial regions in an initiative to cut the city’s PM2.5 pollutants, a top environmental protection official said Wednesday.

Beijing’s high reading of PM 2.5 — fine particulate matter 2.5 microns or less in diameter — and poor air quality are correlated with air conditions in surrounding regions under the scheme, according to Minister of Environmental Protection Zhou Shengxian.

This problem can hardly be solved by the Beijing municipal government alone, hence the joint action also involves neighboring regions including Hebei province and Tianjin city, Zhou said.

He said people are particularly attentive to PM2.5 figures because particles at this level are considered more hazardous to health than larger ones.

The official said China’s effort to cut PM2.5 is an indication that the country is now paying more attention to the environmental quality rather than the total pollutants discharged.

News @ AsiaOne

Beijing to switch from coal to gas to go green

More than 100 smaller cities will adopt the new air quality standards in 2013. -China Daily/ANN
Meng Jing and Zhang Yan

Thu, Mar 08, 2012
China Daily/Asia News Network

Beijing is to take action to make its coal-fired power plants and heating facilities go green amid public concern over the city’s poor air quality, said a government official.

Zhang Gong, director of Beijing municipal development and reform commission, said that an estimated 80 billion yuan (S$16.3 billion) will be invested to switch the city’s coal-fired power plants and heating facilities to natural gas.

“We want to make sure that power plants and heating facilities will be fueled by natural gas in the coming three to four years, reducing the use of coal as much as possible,” Zhang said on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People’s Congress.

Zhang said the move is set to improve Beijing’s air quality and ease public concern over PM2.5, particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, which can be hazardous after reaching a certain concentration.

Emissions from coal-fired power plants and heating facilities, as well as from the 5 million cars running in Beijing, are a major source of PM2.5 in the capital, according to research conducted by the municipal government.

Coal consumption in Beijing was around 26.3 million tons in 2011, with coal-fired heating and power plants accounting for 73 per cent. The remainder was for industrial use, Zhang said.

“So reducing the use of coal is our priority to cut the concentration of PM2.5 in the city,” he said, adding Beijing will use more green energy in the near future.

PM2.5 has been put higher up the government agenda amid growing concern over poor air quality in China’s big cities.

According to a statement by the State Council at the end of February, the four municipalities – Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing – and 27 provincial capitals, as well as three key regions – the Yangtze and Pearl river deltas and the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region – will monitor PM2.5 this year.

More than 100 smaller cities will adopt the new air quality standards in 2013.

The statement said the standards will be extended to all cities by 2015.

Beijing has been releasing the data on the concentration of PM2.5 to the public since January.

Replacing coal-fired plants with natural gas-fueled ones will make significant contribution toward improving air quality, said Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, a Beijing-based non-governmental organization.

“However, it may take longer than expected,” Ma said.

He said Beijing is actually a relatively small consumer of coal compared with its neighbors in Hebei province and Tianjin.

“The hard work done by Beijing alone is not going to improve the overall air quality unless the neighboring cities also make an effort,” he said.

Zhang from the reform and development commission of Beijing said that the experience of Western countries shows that improving air quality is a long and complicated battle.

“The government is no longer focusing solely on the economic growth of the city. We want to have sustainable development and create a livable city for the people,” he said, adding that is the reason that the government has set an annual target of 8 per cent GDP growth during the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-15) instead of the double-digit growth of previous years.

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Air Pollution in Hong Kong and PRD-the state of science

Chak K. Chan
Division of Environment,
Department of Chemical Engineering, and
Institute for the Environment
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Clear Water Bay, HONG KONG1

Chak K. ChanDivision of Environment,Department of Chemical Engineering, andInstitute for the EnvironmentHong Kong University of Science and TechnologyClear Water Bay, HONG KONG

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