China further tightens air pollution targets - Environment minister

19 March 2018 04:05 Source:ICIS News

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China has tightened its targets for improving air pollution levels in the country under a new three-year plan, its environment minister was quoted as saying by state media over the weekend.

The targets for the concentration of PM2.5 –tiny, toxic particles or droplets in the air which can lead to fatal diseases - will be stricter than the current plan that is due to end in 2020, the Minister of Environmental Protection Li Ganjie was quoted as saying by state-owned China Daily on the sidelines of the 13th National People's Congress on 17 March.

Li did not elaborate on the details of the new plan.

Li heads the newly-approved Ministry of Ecological Environment, which was transformed from the former Ministry of Environmental Protection, it said.

The new ministry will absorb duties held by other authorities that relate to river, marine and soil pollution as well as climate change, according to China Daily.

Moreover, the new ministry plans to set up a nationwide inspection system, which will give responsibility for regular checks on polluting companies and factories to local authorities in addition to the central government, Li said.

The central government launched its first round of national environmental inspections in December 2015, according to China Daily.

In a separate report, state-run Xinhua said that about 18,000 people were disciplined or punished for environmental problems discovered in the inspections.

Four rounds of central environmental inspections have been launched since 2016, it said.

About 2,100 local officials, including three at provincial level, were found responsible during the follow-up examinations of those problems, Xinhua added.

China had previously set an official PM2.5 target of 35 micrograms, which is still higher than the World Health Organization’s recommendation of no more than 10 micrograms.

In October last year, China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection said that the average PM2.5 reading across 28 northern cities stood at 61 micrograms.

By Nurluqman Suratman