30% of China’s cities see air pollution worsen compared to last spring – Greenpeace

Press release - 2016-07-21
Beijing, 20 July, 2016 – Air pollution data from 367 cities across China shows that PM2.5 levels worsened in close to 30% of cities in the second quarter of 2016 compared to the second quarter of 2015. First tier cities Shanghai and Guangzhou are among the cities which saw deteriorating air quality. Greenpeace East Asia analysis indicates this stalling of at least one year of air pollution improvements is a direct result of an uptick in industrial production, especially steel and concrete, in the second quarter of this year. Greenpeace urges the Chinese government to strengthen controls on coal via a nationwide coal consumption cap and to more stringently control industrial emissions.

“It is extremely disheartening to see the trend of improving air stalling,” said Greenpeace East Asia climate and energy campaigner, Dong Liansai. “However, it is now clearer than ever that air pollution and coal-burning heavy industry are directly connected. The trend is clear, and so too is the solution – accelerate China’s energy transition away from coal.”


The impact of increased industrial production on air quality was most pronounced in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. In the second quarter of 2016, Hebei concrete production jumped by 24.2% and steel production by 7%. Shandong steel production also increased by 6%. Correlatively, 13 cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region saw average PM2.5 levels increase.


While Beijing saw PM2.5 concentration fall by 6.9% compared to the second quarter of 2016, both Shanghai and Guangzhou saw concentrations rise by 6.1% and 5.1% respectively.


Greenpeace analysis also shows that the composition of China’s air pollution is changing. Though still the major culprit, PM2.5 is being joined with PM10 and ozone as elements which the government must battle. The average ozone concentration of the 13 cities in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region for the first half of 2016 was 64.1ug/m3, a rise of 6.3% from the same period in 2015 and a rise of 9.8% compared to the first half of 2014, according to Greenpeace analysis.


In order to bring back the trend of falling PM2.5 concentration, the Chinese government must make sure to implement a nationwide coal consumption cap in the upcoming energy sector 13th Five Year Plan. It is also crucial for local governments to strictly control emissions, especially in heavy industry intensive areas. The government should also learn from the recently published mid-term review of the ‘Air Pollution Prevention & Control Action Plan’ and implement a comprehensive plan for tackling all elements of China’s air pollution, including ozone.


Media Contact:


Tom Baxter,

International Communications Officer, Greenpeace East Asia,


phone: +86 188 1134 4861


Greenpeace International Press Desk

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phone: +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)