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March 8th, 2012:

PM2.5 link (FSP)

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.

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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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Waste can become the fuel for a greener Hong Kong; Douglas Woodring says we need creative management, not an incinerator

Waste can become the fuel for a greener Hong Kong; Douglas Woodring says we need creative management, not an incinerator
Douglas Woodring
South China Morning Post
March 8, 2012
The large-scale incinerator planned for the island off southern Lantau, Shek Kwu Chau, has sparked strong debate about its practicality and, in many ways, the future of Hong Kong. This is not just a “not in my backyard” issue, it is about an ill-planned project that will affect the entire city and even those who might want to visit or live here in the future.

By holding the public hostage to a railroaded approval process, forcing us all to accept outdated technology, poor planning and lack of foresight, the government is setting itself up for further alienation from a public it is trying to win over with “harmonious” activities.

Southern Lantau is valuable because it will increasingly be the “lungs and heart” of the city we live in, along with the coasts and islands within our reach. Once these assets are taken away, there will be nothing left in the bank for us to draw on.

It was not so many years ago that Hong Kong remained one of the few countries that did not classify waste as a renewable energy source. This hindered many potential waste-to-fuel technologies and innovations that could have been set up around the existing landfills, where our waste planning basically equates to digging bigger landfill holes.

When Beijing put some pressure on our city to have a higher renewable energy input, the government then realised it had to allow waste to be turned to fuel in order to achieve its goals, already meagre when compared with the rest of our neighbours in the region.

So, we are now being told that waste can be valuable, and incineration can be the solution to our landfill issues, but we are being presented with an outdated way of thinking and planning that will greatly reduce the perceived benefits of such a plan. Why should our population, with a wealthy government, accept substandard thinking and solutions, and environmental degradation all at the same time? This is like building a highway and ensuring that it is designed with large potholes.

Technologies today have shown that waste has value as secondary raw materials. It is something we want to preserve, re-use and extract value from, while maintaining the value of our assets in the “bank” – our environment. Incinerating waste is the lazy way out of a problem; it depletes the resources right under our noses.

By separating all plastic waste, for example, economies of scale can be created for proper, value-added recycling. This saves energy and creates material that leading brands of the world are starting to use. After all of the valuable plastic material is extracted, the remaining material can be turned into fuel, not via incineration, but via distillation, which turns it back to a liquid. Plastic is stored energy after all, derived from petroleum.

The huge benefit this now creates is that all of our food waste and organic material can be treated separately, using new composting or other technologies. When all of these waste streams are separated, the creation of methane in landfills is avoided. Plastic can be harnessed as a fuel in a much bigger way. And, no incineration is needed.

An incinerator at Shek Kwu Chau will not only cause immeasurable long-term damage to the value of Hong Kong as a city by the sea, to the island it occupies, to the ocean it fills, and to the quality of life for tomorrow’s generation – it will show the world that we lack the skills and planning to create a truly world-class city. The plan will also create carbon emissions from support transport, probably offsetting the “renewable” resources it is meant to create.

Instead, we could deploy new recycling, composting and specialised waste-to-fuel options which would maximise the value that this secondary raw material represents.

We are missing out on a huge job creation opportunity here, not to mention an impressive environmental leadership role to be proud of.

Do we have the ability to guide this project and planning in the direction that this city deserves?

Douglas Woodring is founder of the Ocean Recovery Alliance and a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment Maker

Copyright 2012 South China Morning Post Ltd.All Rights Reserved

South China Morning Post