Greenpeace: Beijing leads the way in pollution battle but rest of China disappoints
Beijing and its surrounding region have made big improvements in air quality for 2017, according to a report published by Greenpeace on Thursday.
Nationwide gains, however, were reported to be less positive in comparison, particularly since industrial activity has moved away from the Beijing area to other regions of the mainland.
Restrictions on the use of coal and industrial activity have led to a huge improvement in air quality in the capital and across northern China, aided by favourable weather conditions.
Overall, air pollution levels in China were cut by around 4.5% last year by Greenpeace’s calculations, which was the smallest decline since 2013, according to the report. The overall disappointing results are in part due to increasing coal, cement and steel production.
The report showed that while government environmental policies are definitely having an impact, progress around the country is uneven.
Huang Wei, Greenpeace East Asia campaigner, told CNBC: “China’s national air pollution action plan has brought massive reductions in pollution levels and associated health risks, but policies favouring coal and heavy industry are holding back progress”.
Most of 2017 saw China’s economy growing faster than expected, and industry and construction boomed.
According to Greenpeace, Year on Year in the 28 northern cities around Beijing, PM2.5 levels (a key pollution indicator) fell by 40%, but this figure was only 23% in surrounding areas.