Beijing’s first air pollution red alert of 2016, coal burning the culprit - Greenpeace

Press release - 2016-12-16
Beijing, 16 December, 2016 - A Greenpeace East Asia analysis of air pollution statistics identifies industrial coal burning in Beijing’s surrounding provinces as the primary source of the pollution which has triggered the red alert measures for 16-21 December. Greenpeace East Asia calls on the government to accelerate China’s economic transition, further curb coal consumption across the country and strengthen the enforcement of emission limits.

“As Beijing braces for five days of serious air pollution, the culprits are in clear sight - coal-burning heavy industry,” said Greenpeace East Asia climate and energy campaigner Dong Liansai.

The current heavy pollution episode follows an increase in average PM2.5 concentration in October and November this year compared to 2015. The slowing of progress on pollution is linked to an uptick in industrial production since the government introduced industry stimulus measures in March this year (see Graph 1).

Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) data on air pollutant origins by province and sector also indicate heavy industry in Hebei and Shandong as the prime source of air pollutants in the region (see Graph 2 and Graph 3)

“The enforcement of emissions limits urgently needs to be strengthened. In the longer term, it is clear that the government must accelerate China’s economic transition away from polluting heavy industries and towards cleaner services,” said Dong Liansai.

The air pollution red alert measures cause significant disruption to life in Beijing and surrounding areas, with a strict limitation on numbers of cars on the road and school and business closures.

In previous air pollution orange and red alert episodes, factories and plants in Hebei are known to have flouted regulations on reducing or halting production. Any such practices during this red alert should be strictly punished.

Greenpeace urges the government to further curb coal consumption across the country by introducing a national level coal consumption cap and accelerating the economy’s transition away from heavy industry. In addition, the enforcement of emissions limits must be strengthened.

 

Notes to Editor:

Graph 1:

Graph 2:

Graph 3:

Media contacts:

Tom Baxter, International Communications Officer, Greenpeace East Asia, email: phone: +86 18811344861

Greenpeace International Press Desk, , phone: +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)

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