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New measures to be adopted for fighting winter pollution in North China
China’s top environment regulator has recently adopted a string of new policies to fight air pollution in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and its neighboring area.

Zhao Yingmin, vice minister of environment protection, outlined the new policies at a press conference on Wednesday, noting that controlling heavy pollution in the winter would be a strategic priority, and the ministry would first step up efforts to reduce overcapacity in the region, according to the Ministry of Environment Protection’s official website.

Based on the data from the environmental monitoring agency, in 2016, cities above prefecture-level in China had good air quality on nearly 78.8 percent of days. The presence of fine particulate matter, known as PM2.5, in more heavily polluted regions like the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta had all dropped respectively by 7.8, 13.2 and 5.9 percent. Despite that, Zhao noted that the air quality in North China’s winter continues to deteriorate, especially in the heating season.

The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region has become infamous for its bad air quality in China. In several extreme cases that lasted over three days, local governments were forced to issue severe air pollution warnings in the region this winter. The ministry promised that in 2017, coal consumption in the region and its neighborhood would target a decline compared with the past year.

The more closely monitored “2 + 26” cities located along the transport channels, are required to achieve steel overcapacity reduction targets before other cities in China. The so-called “2 + 26” cities include Beijing and Tianjin plus 26 cities in Hebei, Henan, Shandong and Shanxi provinces.

Except for reducing overcapacity, according to Zhao, more efforts would be put into promoting clean heating, tightening vehicle emission control, and enhancing urban management among others.

China has waged a war on air pollution in 2013 by releasing an action plan that sets targets for reducing the PM2.5 concentration in the air by 25 percent in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, 20 percent in the Yangtze River Delta, and 15 percent in the Pearl River Delta by 2017. Now coming to the last year of the plan, the environment protection ministry has promised to partner with associated agencies to take actions in order to achieve the goal.  

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