Xi：China Will Continue Years-long War on Smog
China President Xi Jinping said on October 18th at the opening ceremony of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, China will keep up its years-long battle against smog to ensure “blue skies” and promote a revolution in clean energy.
Improving the notoriously toxic air across the northern regions of China has been a cornerstone of Beijing’s economic and social policy in recent years.
China has ordered factories to cut output in a bid to enforce bigger emission cuts in coming months and avoid a repeat of the near-record levels of choking smog that enveloped key northern areas at the start of the year.
As parts of an aggressive action plan that aims to cut wintertime particulate pollution by 15% year-on-year, China has launched a winter action plan on air pollution with a series of measures to curb the production in heavily polluting industries, including steel, cement, and aluminum.
Since early October, dozens of huge steel mills have stopped or curtailed their operations, which is a month ahead of schedule due to the early smog warnings. Cement plants in northern China are preparing to shut down entirely before Christmas. These actions are set to take full effect in mid-November and will last for five months.
In addition to curbs on steel, cement and aluminum production, the winter action plan targets household coal use, restricts diesel trucks, and stops major construction projects. Brick-making, pottery and other small industries are ordered to close down as well.
Besides, following the Party Congress, China is going to establish the first regional Environmental Protection Bureau in Beijing’s surrounding areas by 2018 to consolidate cuts in air pollution.
In the long term, it has also launched a series of measures to curb the use of coal and boost use of renewable power, like wind and solar.
According to Unearthed, China is to stop or delay work on 151 planned and under-construction coal plants as Beijing struggles to respond to a flat-lining of demand for coal power. Due to the boom of renewable energy and a slowdown in power demand as the country moved away from heavy industry, China is facing severe overcapacity in electricity and many power stations often operating at less than half their capacities. Last year, the government set a target of stopping or delaying at least 150,000 megawatts of coal-fired power plant projects by 2020 and this makes the start of this process.
According to Xi, as China moves to modernize its vast agricultural sector, the government will also take measures to improve rural areas by restoring soil and waterways.
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