Turn to the nation's most objective and informative daily environmental news resource to learn how the United States and key players around the world are responding to the environmental...
By Michael Standaert
Feb. 19 — China is in the midst of a massive, long-term project to unify the infrastructure, bureaucratic and regulatory systems in the area known as the Jing-Jin-Ji—which includes Beijing and Tianjin municipalities and the surrounding province of Hebei—to create a megalopolis in the next decade in an area that is home to 130 million people.
The area is notorious for some of the world's worst air pollution, with Beijing's average small particulate matter (PM-2.5) density level at about 80 micrograms per cubic meter—around twice the national target.
The area is seeing more constraints on water resources due to overuse and contamination. Some areas also are acutely damaged by soil pollution, in addition to the residential, industrial and construction waste piling up around the capital.
China's hope is that by building more infrastructure, including high-speed rails, metro systems and intercity fast trains, and upgrading the economic profile of the region by reducing its dependence on heavy industry, it can begin to clean up the air, shorten lengthy commutes, ease traffic congestion and make the region more livable.
Unifying the region's environmental policy is the goal behind several recently announced plans and pilot projects.
Late last year, officials unveiled an ecological protection plan for the Jing-Jin-Ji and are crafting a pollution prevention and treatment plan.
Buttressed by amendments to China's new Air Pollution Control Law that went into effect Jan. 1, the Jing-Jin-Ji will aim to lower its small particulate matter density level to 73 micrograms by the end of 2017 and 64 micrograms by the end of 2020.
The area is also one of the key control regions under a Water Pollution Action Plan announced early last year, as well as a focus of increasingly strict water management plans being rolled out across the country that set limits on total water use, water pollution levels and water use efficiency. Jing-Jin-Ji aims to improve water quality and level off water consumption to around 29.6 billion cubic meters by the end of the decade.
The challenge ahead will be how to manage and allocate all these targets, as different cities within the region have different levels of economic development and industrial structures.
For instance, most major heavy industry has moved out of Beijing to neighboring Hebei and other nearby provinces. Knowledge and capacity for implementing environmental management differs throughout the region, with areas of Hebei often seen as lagging behind the two state-level municipalities that make headlines when air pollution levels meet red-alert status, as they did last December for the first time since the new warning system was established.
Hebei will need assistance in terms of mechanisms to fund industrial transformation, pollution treatment and prevention, said Wang Jinnan, deputy director of the Ministry of Environmental Protection's (MEP) environmental sciences academy.
On Jan. 4, the MEP said a special investigation team has been established to help Hebei governments handle environmental problems. The same day, it announced that Hebei is being made a pilot province for the rollout of an environmental monitoring network the ministry hopes to eventually extend nationwide.
And on Feb. 4, the MEP announced in initial findings from the investigations that at least 120 company executives and local officials had been found to have violated environmental regulations, or were derelict in their duty. Some of the more severe cases could be transferred to judicial authorities.
Hebei also will be the first pilot province where bureaucratic reforms will implement vertical management of the environmental protection bureau (EPB) system, with the federal Ministry of Environmental Protection at the top and provincial environmental protection bureaus directly overseeing those below them.
In the past, local EPBs were funded by, and answered directly to, the governments in their jurisdiction.
A water quality monitoring network is also being established to unify the data in the Jing-Jin-Ji. It should be functioning by the end of 2016.
Hebei is also among the first provinces to start implementing new pollutant emissions licensing management policies, and judicial departments in the province have started to set up special teams to handle ecological crimes.
To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Standaert in Shenzhen, China, at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Greg Henderson at email@example.com
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)