Sina
Edition: CHINA ASIA USA EUROPE AFRICA
Home > Nation
Sunday, January 8, 2017, 11:01

China’s environment minister feels ‘guilty’ for air pollution

By Xinhua

China’s environment minister feels ‘guilty’ for air pollution
A mother carrying her daughter, who is wearing mask due to air pollution, walks towards a hospital in Beijing on Jan 5, 2017. (Wang Zhao / AFP)

BEIJING – China's environment minister said he "felt guilty" and "wanted to reproach himself" as widespread air pollution caused sufferings to people, an official statement said Saturday.

Chen Jining, minister of environmental protection, made the remarks at a press conference late on Friday in Beijing, introducing China's efforts on air pollution prevention.

ALSO READ: Smog puts China's pollution battle on red alert

Since the beginning of last winter, heavy air pollution took place repeatedly in many places in China, covering large area and lasting long, disrupting production activities and people's everyday lives, Chen said.

The root cause of the region's smog problems, from a long-term perspective, is the unclean industrial and energy mix, which require big changes

Chen Jining, Minister of Environmental Protection, China

The public felt anxious about the smog problem, he said.

Detailed analysis showed emissions from automobiles are the primary source of urban atmospheric fine particles in major cities, accounting for 31.3 percent in Beijing, 29.2 percent in Shanghai and 28 percent in Hangzhou, according to the environment minister.

Fine particles are defined by the US Environmental Protection Agency as compounds that have a diameter of less than or equal to 2.5 micrometers. Substances that may form these particles come from power plants, industrial facilities, agricultural practices and motor vehicles among others.

READ MORE: China to track second-hand vehicle emissions

Chen said the ministry was evaluating 20 cities' emergency plans in dealing with heavy air pollution, hoping to improve their ability to respond.

The cities include Beijing , Tianjin and 18 other cities in Hebei and surrounding provinces.

Inspections had found some cities failing to take effective measures following alerts, or their measures were impracticable, Chen said.

The ministry will enhance supervision on whether the local governments have taken necessary precautions, according to the minister.

Chen vowed to take concrete steps and employ more stringent and effective measures to deal with the environmental problems and improve environment quality.

China’s environment minister feels ‘guilty’ for air pollution
A stone lion on a bridge in Tianjin is covered with a mask in the heavy smog that has hit much of the country's northern regions. (Tong Yu / For China Daily)
China has been cleaning its environment and will continue to improve the response of local governments to pollution, Chen said.

China has made improvements in environment despite strong headwinds, such as an economic structure burdened by heavy industry, an energy mix reliant on fossil fuels, and environmentally unfriendly lifestyles, according to Chen.

Detailed analysis showed emissions from automobiles are the primary source of urban atmospheric fine particles in major cities, accounting for 31.3 percent in Beijing, 29.2 percent in Shanghai and 28 percent in Hangzhou

Chen Jining

China's national observatory on Tuesday issued a red alert for fog in a number of northern and eastern regions, the first ever national red alert for fog. Meanwhile, north China has been under high-level smog alerts since late December.

The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and neighboring provinces, the area hit hardest by smog, are major coal consumers and are home to a large share of China's steel, coke and cement production facilities as well as automobiles, according to Chen.

"The root cause of the region's smog problems, from a long-term perspective, is the unclean industrial and energy mix, which require big changes," Chen said.

ALSO READ: Air quality worsens with winter

He said that monitoring results in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region show that the government's efforts have paid off in the past few years as the average concentration of PM 2.5 fell by about 30 percent in 2016 compared with 2013. However, there seems to be little winter air quality improvement.

Unfavorable weather conditions and inefficient winter heating have also contributed to the lingering smog, Chen added.

To address the problems in winter, China will phase out unclean and inefficient coal-fired boilers, encourage off-peak industrial production and enhance scrutiny and punishment for violations of the rules.

Latest News