On Sunday, China’s top environmental watchdog discussed air quality developments in the country at a press conference, noting significant improvement in major cities throughout the Middle Kingdom.
Li Ganjie, minister of ecology and environment, said that 74 Chinese cities saw their average concentration of PM2.5 (fine particulate matter 2.5 microns or less in width) drop by 41.7% since 2013, according to China Daily. That same year, a new air monitoring standard was adopted by Chinese cities.
Aside from a drop in PM2.5, the average density of sulfur dioxide found in cities above prefecture-level also declined by 60%, falling to 14 micrograms per cubic meter.
While Li mentioned that China’s air quality has improved rather fast, saying “It’s hard to find a precedent in the international community,” polluting emissions “remain high.” Last year, one study showed that vehicle emissions had replaced coal as Beijing’s top source of PM2.5. And the capital city isn’t alone, as SCMP reported in 2017 that China has over 300 million vehicles, along with 10 of the world’s 25 most congested cities.
Li also claimed that air quality in China is sensitive to changing meteorological conditions, which can have a significant impact if pollutant discharge is not reduced. The minister acknowledged that “the situation remains really not that optimistic” and “even grim,” according to China Daily.
However, the fight against air pollution must go on. In May, Global Times reported that a domestically developed smog-monitoring laser radar system was deployed in densely-populated areas in the Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta, Sichuan province and Chongqing. The smog laser is expected to help analyze the causes of pollution to create new strategies to tackle the pressing environmental issue.
[Cover image via Unsplash]