China’s Beijing, Hebei cut smog emissions 12 percent in 2018


January 5, 2019

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s capital of Beijing, and its surrounding industrial province of Hebei, cut smog emissions by at least 12 percent in 2018 after a long crackdown on polluters and campaigns to reduce household coal use, environmental authorities said.

Beijing and Hebei have been on the frontline of a war on pollution launched in 2014 to soothe public disquiet about the state of China’s skies, rivers and soil following more than three decades of untrammelled economic growth.

But environmentalists have expressed concern the country’s slowing economy would force local authorities to ease up on polluters this year, and pollution readings in major industrial cities rose 14 percent in November.

Beijing’s emissions of small, hazardous breathable particles known as PM2.5 fell 12 percent to 51 micrograms per cubic meter over the whole of 2018, the local government said on its website on Friday.

Average emissions are still significantly higher than China’s official air quality standard of 35 micrograms. Beijing managed to meet the target in January, August and September, the local government said.

It said 656 polluting enterprises were forced to relocate last year, with firms and individuals fined a total of 230 million yuan ($33.50 million) for violations, up 22.5 percent from last year.

The official China Daily said 30 percent of the improvement resulted from “favorable meteorological conditions”. With about a third of Beijing’s PM2.5 emissions originated by neighboring regions, improvement in Hebei also helped, it added.

Hebei, China’s biggest steel producing region, saw PM2.5 emissions fall by 12.5 percent to an average of 56 micrograms in 2018, preliminary figures from the province’s environment bureau showed last week.

The cut was partly a result of Hebei’s efforts to cut coal consumption, as about 1.8 million households replaced coal with natural gas and electricity for heating this winter, the paper said.

Upto 79 cities across China’s north and east have faced special pollution curbs this winter.

($1=6.8663 yuan)

Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

Source: Reuters “China’s Beijing, Hebei cut smog emissions 12 percent in 2018”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

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Beijing to demolish 15 square miles of illegal structures


FILE PHOTO: Beijing’s Mayor Chen Jining attends a group discussion session on the second day of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Reuters Staff January 24, 2018

BEIJING (Reuters) – Beijing plans to tear down at least 40 million square meters, or a staggering 15.44 square miles, of illegal structures, roughly an area of 28 London Hyde Parks, and shut 500 manufacturing firms this year.

The city will “ensure zero increase of such structures” this year and will continue to relocate people out of the city center, acting mayor Chen Jining said in an annual work report to the city’s government on Wednesday.

Beijing last year set a similar goal to demolish 40 million square meters of illegal structures, but there was no indication in this year’s report whether the target was met.

Beijing launched a citywide safety blitz in November following a deadly fire that has resulted in the demolition of buildings that violate safety codes and the eviction of thousands of migrant workers from their homes and businesses.

The evictions sparked unusually direct criticism from China’s intellectuals, students and journalists, who say the government is unfairly targeting the vulnerable underclass.

There will also be no letting up in a campaign to sanitize ancient hutong alleyways that last year displaced migrants as many were evicted from homes and businesses were shut down along the narrow passageways.

The city will continue to “close small shops operated from illegal openings cut in the wall”, the report said, referring to what the city says are illegal modifications to the traditional structures.

Authorities will also preserve the historical areas of Beijing, including the appropriation of properties, though Chen said housing will be provided for those relocated.

Beijing has been moving what it calls “non-capital functions” out of the city in order to relieve traffic congestion and pressure on public services, with the Xiongan New Area announced last year as a major focus for regional development.

“Whatever support Xiongan needs, we will be there to provide it,” said Chen.

Reporting by Elias Glenn; Editing by Michael Perry

Source: Reuters “Beijing to demolish 15 square miles of illegal structures”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Beijing may be starting to win its battle against smog


Muyu Xu, Elias Glenn December 29, 2017

BEIJING (Reuters) – Beijing may have turned a corner in its battle against the city’s notorious smog, according to Reuters calculations, and environmental consultants say the Chinese government deserves much of the credit for introducing tough anti-pollution measures.

The Chinese capital is set to record its biggest improvement in air quality in at least nine years, with a nearly 20 percent change for the better this year, based on average concentration levels of hazardous breathable particles known as PM2.5.

The dramatic change, which has occurred across North China, is partly because of favorable weather conditions in the past three months but it also shows that the government’s strong-arm tactics have had an impact.

The Reuters’ estimates show that average levels of the pollutants in the capital have fallen by about 35 percent from 2012 numbers, with nearly half the improvement this year.

“The improvement in air quality is due both to long-term efforts by the government and short-term efforts this winter,” said Anders Hove, a Beijing-based energy consultant. “After 2013, the air in summers got much cleaner, but winter had not shown much improvement. This year is the first winter improvement we’ve seen during this war on pollution.”

Government officials this week signaled they were confident they were starting to get on top of the problem.

“The autumn and winter period is the most challenging part of the air pollution campaign. However, with the intensive efforts all departments have made, we believe the challenge is being successfully overcome,” Liu Youbin, spokesman for the Ministry of Environmental Protection, told reporters on Thursday.

STILL A LONG WAY TO GO

But environmental experts say that while they are optimistic, it may be too early to celebrate.

“The turning point is here but we cannot rule out the possibility we can turn back,” said Ranping Song, developing country climate action manager for the World Resources Institute. “We need to be cautious about challenges and not relax now that there have been improvements. There are lots of issues to be solved.”

And while China has scored an initial victory over smog, it still has to reverse public opinion outside China on its air quality.

New York-based travel guidebook publisher Fodor’s advised tourists in mid-November in its ‘No List” for 2018 to shun Beijing until the city’s anti-pollution campaign had reduced the “overwhelming smog”. Fodor’s did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In Beijing there is certainly plenty of room for further progress as average air quality is still significantly worse than the World Health Organization’s recommendations.

And the region still sees bouts of heavy smog. On Friday afternoon the U.S. embassy’s website said Beijing’s air was “very unhealthy” and the city issued a pollution alert on Thursday.

EMBASSY MONITORING

The Reuters calculations showing the improvement were based on average hourly readings of PM2.5 concentrations at the United States Embassy in Beijing from April 8, 2008 to Dec. 28, 2017. The data was compiled from figures from the U.S. embassy’s air monitoring website, as well as data provided by AirVisual, a Beijing company that analyses air quality data.

The data from the embassy, though not fully verified or validated, is the only set available for PM2.5 levels in the capital over that time period. AirVisual provided the hour-by-hour air pollution data from the embassy for recent months.

(For a graphic on average monthly PM2.5 concentration in Beijing, click tmsnrt.rs/2zLIo0R)

Beijing’s air was actually worse in the first nine months of this year than in the same period last year, but PM2.5 concentrations from October to Dec. 28 this year were nearly 60 percent lower than last year, the Reuters figures show.

Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Huang Wei said that less than half of the improvement is due to favorable weather – particularly stronger northerly winds and low humidity – with the government’s policies behind most of the change.

The Chinese government launched a winter smog “battleplan” in October for 28 northern cities that called for strict rules on emissions during the winter heating months when pollution typically worsens.

The authorities also sought to make sure that Beijing wasn’t too polluted during October’s Communist Party congress, which is only held once every five years, at which Xi Jinping consolidated his power as the nation’s leader. Some of the more-polluting businesses in and around the capital were told to shut down for a period before and during the gathering.

The plan for the winter months included switching millions of households and some industrial users to natural gas from coal for their heating and some other needs. There were also mandated cuts in steel production by up to 50 percent in some of the areas surrounding the city.

CONTRAST WITH INDIA

Beijing’s improving air quality stands in stark contrast to India’s capital New Delhi, where pollution has steadily become worse over the past few years, and is now well above Beijing‘s.

China’s improvement, and deterioration in some other countries, means China is now not among the ten worst countries for pollution in the world anymore, according to at least one measure.

“At the national level, India tops the index rankings, followed by Bangladesh and Thailand,” said Richard Hewston, global head of environment and climate change at risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft, which measures 198 countries for air quality.

(For a graphic on Beijing average annual PM2.5 concentration, click tmsnrt.rs/2BRDCAL)

Beijing’s clean-air campaign hasn’t been without its challenges.

The government this year botched the switch from coal to natural gas, leading to recent widespread shortages of gas, soaring liquefied natural gas prices, leaving some residents freezing in their homes and some factories shuttered.

There is also a wider economic cost. Growth in industrial output, especially in northern China, has slowed because of the pollution crackdown, economists say, and the prices of some key commodities, from LNG to copper, have risen.

Some of those who had been benefiting from the poor air quality by selling air filtration products have been taking a hit.

“Overall demand in China is down… Some companies have 100 million yuan ($15.35 million) in unsold inventory this year as a result of the improved air quality,” said Liam Bates, CEO of Beijing-based Kaiterra, which makes air filters and air quality monitoring products.

“We haven’t seen huge impact because we’re expanding heavily overseas. While the air in China is getting better, the air in India is much, much worse and we just opened our India office,” he said.

Reporting by Muyu Xu and Elias Glenn; Additional reporting by Josephine Mason and Cate Cadell in Beijing, Henning Gloystein in Singapore and Valerie Volcovici in Washington D.C.; Editing by Martin Howell

Source: Reuters “Beijing may be starting to win its battle against smog”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Beijing proudly unveils mega-airport due to open in 2019


The inner view of the terminal hall of new Daxing Airport constructed on the outskirts of Beijing, China October 16, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Cate Cadell October 16, 2017 / 5:59 PM / Updated 12 hours ago

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s capital unveiled the “shining example” of its 80 billion yuan (£9.1 billion) new airport on Monday, tipped to become one of the world’s largest when it opens in October 2019 amid a massive infrastructure drive overseen by President Xi Jinping.

Representatives showed off the sprawling skeleton of “Beijing New Airport”, which is made up of 1.6 million cubic meters of concrete, 52,000 tonnes of steel and spans a total 47 sq km (18 sq miles), including runways.

It is expected to serve an initial 45 million passengers a year with an eventual capacity of 100 million, putting it on par with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

“Lined up together there’s roughly 5 km of gates,” said project spokesman Zhu Wenxin. “It’s a shining example of China’s national production capacity.”

Updates on the airport come as the ruling Communist Party is set to open its 19th congress later this week, a twice-a-decade leadership event where Xi will consolidate power and emphasize successful projects and policy from his first five years.

The project, which broke ground in 2014, is one of the region’s largest infrastructure investments under Xi’s rule, which has been plagued by fears of slowing economic growth, offset slightly by a construction spree.

China has sought to boost its profile as both an aviation hub and a manufacturer in recent years. The country’s first home-grown passenger jet, the C919, lifted off on its maiden flight in May, edging into a multibillion-dollar market currently dominated by Boeing Co and Airbus SE.

Situated 67 km south of Beijing, the airport technically falls in neighboring Hebei province, though it will eventually constitute its own development zone.

It will relieve pressure on Beijing’s existing international airport, to the northeast of Beijing and currently the world’s second largest by passenger volume, which opened a new terminal worth $3.6 billion (£2.7 billion) in 2008 ahead of the Beijing Summer Olympics.

The existing airport will continue to operate major international flights, though a third smaller domestic airport in the city’s south will close in coming years.

Two of China’s three major airlines, China Eastern Airlines Corp and China Southern Airlines Co, will relocate to the airport on completion, accounting for roughly four-fifths of the new airport’s total traffic.

The airport will be connected to Beijing by a high speed train with a top speed of 350 km an hour, as well as an inter-city train and a major expressway.

Original plans for the airport were made by French airports operator Aeroports de Paris, though third-party improvements to the original version make the final design “wholly domestic”, said Zhu.

“It’s like a large flower, but made of steel,” said one construction worker on the site, who declined to share his name because he was not authorized to speak to press.

Reporting by Cate Cadell; Editing by Nick Macfie

Source: Reuters “Beijing proudly unveils mega-airport due to open in 2019”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Smog chokes Chinese, Indian capitals as climate talks begin


Vehicles drive amid heavy smog in Beijing, China, November 30, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Vehicles drive amid heavy smog in Beijing, China, November 30, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Lee

The capitals of the world’s two most populous nations, China and India, were blanketed in hazardous, choking smog on Monday as climate change talks began in Paris, where leaders of both countries are among the participants.

China’s capital Beijing maintained an “orange” pollution alert, the second-highest level, on Monday, closing highways, halting or suspending construction and prompting a warning to residents to stay indoors.

The choking pollution was caused by the “unfavourable” weather, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said on Sunday. Emissions in northern China soar over winter as urban heating systems are switched on and low wind speeds have meant that polluted air has not been dispersed.

In New Delhi, the U.S. embassy’s monitoring station recorded an air quality index of 372, which puts air pollution levels well into “hazardous” territory. A thick smog blanketed the city and visibility was down to about 200 yards (metres).

Air quality in the city of 16 million is usually bad in winter, when coal fires are lit by the poor to ward off the cold. Traffic fumes, too, are trapped over the city by a temperature inversion and the lack of wind.

However, the government has not raised any alarm over the current air quality and no advisories have been issued to the public. Thirty thousand runners took part in a half marathon at the weekend, when pollution levels were just as high.

In Beijing, a city of 22.5 million, the air quality index in some parts of the city soared to 500, its highest possible level. At levels higher than 300, residents are encouraged to remain indoors, according to government guidelines.

The hazardous air underscores the challenge facing the government as it battles pollution caused by the coal-burning power industry and will raise questions about its ability to clean up its economy at the talks in Paris.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are both in Paris and both were scheduled to meet U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday to give momentum to the two-week negotiations.

“WHEN A CHILD IS BORN, WE PLANT A TREE”

Modi sought to highlight India’s green credentials in an article for the Financial Times on Monday, writing: “The instinct of our culture is to take a sustainable path to development. When a child is born, we plant a tree.”

But at Connaught Place, a city centre landmark in New Delhi, people chided the government for failing to minimise the risks to their health from air pollution.

“The pollution level is so high it’s just unbelievable,” said Aisha, a 19-year-old student.

For Beijing’s residents, the poor air makes breathing hard.

“This sort of weather, you can see that all of Beijing has been completely enveloped in smog…and for every breath, getting up every morning, your throat will feel particularly uncomfortable,” said Zhang Heng, a 26-year-old architect.

The Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau said on Sunday that it had requested factories to limit or suspend output and had also stopped construction work throughout the city.

The ministry said the number of cities affected by heavy pollution had reached 23, stretching across 530,000 square km, an area the size of Spain, but a cold front beginning on Wednesday would see the situation improve.

State-run Xinhua news agency said more than 200 expressway toll gates in east China’s Shandong province were closed on Monday due to smog. The province issued a yellow alert.

China launched a “war on pollution” last year following a spate of smog outbreaks in Beijing and surrounding regions.

China has vowed to slash coal consumption and close down polluting industrial capacity, but environmental officials admit that the country is unlikely to meet state air quality standards until at least 2030.

Reducing coal use and promoting cleaner forms of energy are set to play a crucial role in China’s pledges to bring its climate warming greenhouse gas emissions to a peak by around 2030.

(Reporting by David Stanway, Kathy Chen and Adam Rose in Beijing, and; Douglas Busvine and Alex Richardson in New Delhi; Editing by Josephine Mason and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Source: Reuters “Smog chokes Chinese, Indian capitals as climate talks begin”


China Xi’s Grand Plan of Beijing Supercity as Big as Kansas State


Map of the Jing-Jin-Ji supercity will link 130 million people across Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei.

Map of the Jing-Jin-Ji supercity will link 130 million people across Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei.

New York Times describes in its article titled “As Beijing Becomes a Supercity, the Rapid Growth Brings Pains” today, the miserable living conditions of Beijing people who have to live in Beijing’s remote satellite city due to the strict population control excessively high property price in Chinese capital.

For example 700,000 Beijing people live in the remote suburban city Yanjiao with difficulties in commutes to work in Beijing and shortage of schools, hospitals, parks and lots of other facilities and services.

NYT says, “The lack of services reflects deeper challenges. With no property taxes, Chinese cities rely on public land sales for tax revenues. Municipalities are not allowed to keep other locally raised taxes, for fear that local leaders will misuse the proceeds.”

People’s hope lies in the grand plan on the establishment of the Jing (Beijing)-Jin (Tianjin)-Ji (Hebei Province) supercity with high-speed rail links to bring the major cities in the supercity within an hour’s commute of each other.

It will be a grand project covers an area of 18,000 square miles as big as US Kansas State. NYT quotes Liu Gang, a professor at Nankai University in Tianjin and advisor on local governments’ regional development, as saying, “The supercity is the vanguard of economic reform. It reflects the senior leadership’s views on the need for integration, innovation and environmental protection.”

However unlike the vast metro areas such as New York and Tokyo that have grown up organically, Jing-Jin-Ji Supercity will be a unprecedented deliberate creation. In the past Chinese planners used to follow Western rule of thumb that all parts of an urban area should be within 60 miles of each other so that people can effectively commute through highways within an hour.

However, due China’s advanced high-speed rail has shortened distance to enable commutes within the supercity in less than an hour. However, there will still be the problem of funding for the rails and other infrastructures in the supercity.

NYT says in its article, “But several factors are making Jing-Jin-Ji a reality. The most immediate is President Xi Jinping, who laid out an ambitious plan for economic reform in 2013 and has endorsed the region’s integration.”

Unlike US government, Chinese government has surplus funds not only because China’s economic growth is brining it with increasing tax income but also due to the huge profits its large state-owned enterprises are making every year.

Source: New York Times “As Beijing Becomes a Supercity, the Rapid Growth Brings Pains”

Full text of the NYT article can be viewed at http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/20/world/asia/in-china-a-supercity-rises-around-beijing.html?_r=2


Chinese capital shuts third coal-fired plant in war on smog


A security personnel walks near Tiananmen Gate on a heavily hazy day in Beijing October 24, 2014. Reuters/Jason Lee

A security personnel walks near Tiananmen Gate on a heavily hazy day in Beijing October 24, 2014. Reuters/Jason Lee

(Reuters) – China’s smog-hit capital Beijing has shut down the third of its four coal-fired power plants as part of its campaign to cut pollution, with the final one scheduled to close next year, the official Xinhua news agency said on Friday.

In 2013, the city promised in its clean air action plan to bring annual coal consumption down to less than 10 million tonnes by 2017, a reduction of 13 million tonnes in just four years.

It said it would shut down all four of its coal-fired power plants within four years, a move that would cut annual coal consumption by around 9 million tonnes.

Officials also plan to reduce coal combustion in heating systems and industrial facilities, partly by switching to natural gas and by relocating some factories out of the city, and to phase out coal consumption completely by 2020.

A 400-megawatt facility owned by the Guohua Electric Power Co. Ltd was shut on Friday and replaced with a gas-fired plant. It followed the closure of a 93-year-old power station run by Beijing Jingneng Power on Thursday.

It shut its first coal-fired plant, the 600-MW Gaojing facility owned by the China Datang Corporation, last July.

Average levels of hazardous airborne particles known as PM2.5 stood at 85.9 micrograms per cubic meters in 2014, down 4 percent compared with the previous year, but still far higher than the national air quality standard of 35 micrograms.

Beijing plans to bring readings down to 60 by 2017, the municipal environmental bureau said earlier this year.

Only eight of the 74 Chinese cities monitored by the Ministry of Environmental Protection met smog standards in 2014. Seven of the 10 worst-performing cities were in the province of Hebei, which surrounds Beijing.

(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Pravin Char)

Source: Reuters “Chinese capital shuts third coal-fired plant in war on smog”