Chinese Premier Outlines Measures For Tackling Pollutant Emissions Nationwide

By Michael Standaert  


SHENZHEN, China--China’s premier has outlined a series of measures the country will use to construct a national air pollution control plan, the State Council said in a meeting summary posted on its website June 14.

While most of the measures are not new initiatives, some have been strengthened or have had their deadlines moved up.

Premier Li Keqiang said the government hopes to reduce emissions of key air pollutants per unit of gross domestic product 30 percent by 2017 in certain industries but did not specify the baseline year or the pollutants. Under the current 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), China has national goals to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions 8 percent and nitrogen oxide emissions 10 percent by the end of 2015, compared to 2010 levels. The State Council is China's top decisionmaking body.

Further details on the measures were not released but could be contained in forthcoming regulations and guidelines.

Among the measures, one moves up by one year a goal to eliminate outdated production capacity in the iron, steel, cement, electrolytic aluminum, glass, and other key industries the State Council has targeted in the 12th Five-Year Plan. The new deadline is the end of 2014. According to Li’s remarks, the effort is part of a move to better control high-energy, highly polluting industries.

Particles in Urban Areas a Priority

Under another measure, control of small particulate matter (PM 2.5) will focus on the region around Beijing and Tianjin municipalities in northeast China, as well as on the Yangtze and Pearl River delta areas, all regions with heavy urban populations.

Li also indicated that new projects that fail to pass environmental impact assessments for energy conservation and key pollutant reduction targets will not be approved, and land, bank loans, electricity, and water supplies will be withheld from these projects.

Li said China is reviewing proposed amendments to the Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law--proposals that were submitted to the National People’s Congress in 2010 but have not been passed--as well as new and revised emission standards for key industries.

The premier also said the government will work to ensure that heavily polluting industries disclose emissions of key pollutants, will work to release more urban air quality data, and will boost penalties for violations of air pollution laws and regulations.

Other goals include upgrading small coal-fired boiler systems, increasing the use of technology to reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions in industry, treating urban dust pollution, increasing fuel quality standards, and removing older vehicles from the roads. These initiatives are already under way, though they could be strengthened.

Li also outlined goals for increasing the use of natural gas, coal-bed methane, and renewable energy; for expanding public transportation; and for increasing credit support for companies purchasing air pollution control technologies.

By Michael Standaert  

The State Council summary of Premier Li’s remarks is available, in Chinese, at