China's Ministry of Environmental Protection has proposed a draft policy to cut down pollution and clean up the air in the country's heavily polluted cities, marking perhaps the most stringent environment control measures ever taken by Beijing.
The planned policy aims to at least halve steel and fertilizer production and cut aluminum output by at least 30% across 28 cities in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shandong and Shanxi province during the winter heating season.
It will ban a port located in the coastal city of Tianjin from transferring coal until the end of July, with operations shifted to Tangshan Port around 130 kilometers further north. Last year, Tianjin port handled 17% of China’s coal imports.
The environmental ministry also plans to shut down pesticide and fertilizer plants, as well as pharmaceutical factories using urea in the five cities and provinces mentioned above. Factories can only be in operation when there is an urgent need for chemicals and pharmaceuticals, according to a draft regulation that is released to seek public feedback.
Beijing witnessed 39 heavily polluted days last year, 19 days fewer than in 2013, an official at the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau said last month. The success was attributed to the reduction of coal consumption, the control of vehicle emissions and the closure of high-emission enterprises such as pesticide and fertilizer plants.
China's Airborne Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan, released earlier to set objectives for environmental control between 2013 to 2017, aims to reach a 25% reduction in air emissions in 2017 compared to levels in 2012.
Beijing aims to reach an average annual density of PM2.5 particles to around 60 micrograms per cubic meter. On heavily polluted days, the PM2.5 particles density in Beijing or other polluted cities could be as high as over 400 or 500.
Other measures previously taken by Beijing and surrounding regions included helping village residents to use clean energy instead of coal in rural areas, transform coal-fired power plant and heating boilers to those powered by clean energy, ban gasoline vehicles from the road, and shut down polluting factories.