China taking some much needed stronger steps against air pollution but needs to go even further

China has a large air pollution problem that would get a lot worse without strong measures.

Five big proposals from the Deutsch Bank report on China’s air pollutiojn , summarized:
1) Reduce the annual growth in coal from its current rate of 4 percent to 2 percent. Coal use should peak by 2017. (Current projections have coal use peaking in the 2030s.)
2) Adopt scrubbers and other technologies that reduce conventional pollutants from coal-fired power plants 70 percent in the next 18 years. Similar technologies and better fuel efficiency can reduce emissions from vehicles by 80 percent over that time frame.
3) Increase the growth rate for lower-carbon energy technologies, from gas and nuclear to wind and hydro and solar power by 4 percentage points.
4) Slow the number of cars on the road — the 2030 target should be 250 million passenger cars, not the current 400 million.
5) More rails and subways. A lot more, in fact.

There’s a lot more detail in the report, but the analysts estimate that if China does all this, it can reduce maximum annual average levels of PM2.5 down to about 35 micrograms per cubic meter by 2030

Some just announced action to try to reduce air pollution or at strongly slow its growth

China has announced ten “tough measures” to curb China’s pollution:

1. Reduce pollutant emissions through renovation of key industries. Accelerate the clean transformation of urban dust and fuel quality.
2. Strictly control high energy consumption of high-pollution and other key industries’ production capacity.
3. Improve public transport and clean energy production, reducing atmospheric pollutants emission intensity by 30% or more by 2017.
4. Develop natural gas, coal methane and other clean energy supplies.
5. Strengthen energy-saving and environmental indicator constraints on construction, land, power and water supply.

6. Implement incentives and constraints on new energy saving mechanisms to increase sewage collection efforts, as well as increase support for air pollution control. Strengthen international cooperation to cultivate environmental protection and new energy industries.
7. Enforce laws and standards for industrial restructuring and upgrading. Formulate or revise emission standards for key industries, using the proposed amendments of the Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act and other laws. Heavy polluting industries and enterprises must disclose environmental information, and urban air quality rankings and penalties for violations will be established.
8. Densely populated urban areas around the Bohai Sea, including Beijing, Tianjin, the Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta and other regions, must establish joint prevention and control mechanisms on atmospheric environmental targets and assessment systems.
9. Establish local government emergency management in response to heavily polluted weather, and limit emissions from polluting enterprises and vehicles.
10. Develop a code of conduct that can be applied to the whole society, with local government taking overall responsibility on local air quality. The main responsibility for the implementation of corporate pollution lies with the State Council’s relevant departments who should advocate conservation and green consumption patterns.

Clearer measurement of the deadliness of air pollution

Air pollution can cause lung cancer and seems to worsen heart failure, researchers reported in two studies.

* A person’s risk of developing lung cancer rose 18 percent for every extra five micrograms of soot per cubic meter of air, they found. While people who smoke may also live in more polluted areas, the large scope of the studies showed that even so, pollution can raise even a non-smoker’s risk of cancer.

* One of the things that can throw a heart failure patients into the hospital, or kill them, is breathing polluted air. An increase of just 1 part per million of carbon monoxide, a clear odorless gas, raised the risk by 3.5 percent; an increase of 10 micrograms per cubic meter of particulate matter raised the risk 2 percent. The biggest risk was on the day the patient actually breathed in the polluted air

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