Integration of Yangtze River Delta 'should be green': delegate

Environment authorities of Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui provinces and Shanghai are coordinating efforts for a shared greener future for the entire region.

The integration of the Yangtze River Delta region should be green, Shou Ziqi, head of the Bureau of Ecology and Environment in Shanghai told the National People’s Congress on Thursday.

“The integration of the region in environmental protection aims for unified planning, standards and law enforcement,” he said. “Hopefully this will be showcased in the future demonstration zone for the integration.”

In terms of unified standards, Shou said the environmental authorities of the region are mulling the introduction of unified standards for business approval regarding the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

“There are national and local standards in environment-related issues, but no regional ones,” he said. “At this stage, we’re comparing standards and trying to agree on rectifications which will be binding for all.”

Also, starting from July 1 this year, motor vehicles which don’t meet the latest emission standards of China GB 18352.6-2016 will be banned across the region, Shou said.

To combat water pollution, the three provinces — Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui — and Shanghai have almost completed work to identify boundary rivers. Next up, they will map all rivers that flow through two or more provinces and Shanghai.

“We will first push for neighboring cities, towns and counties to coordinate in river pollution prevention and management,” he said.

Authorities also plan to share information of mobile sources of pollution in the region and work together in law enforcement.

The cooperation of the Yangtze River Delta provinces and Shanghai gathered speed in 2015, and the parties have been working more closely under the mechanism.

This resulted in a new measure last year which requires all vessels using sea ports in Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces and Shanghai to use low sulfur oil, which means oil containing sulfur under 5,000 ppm. Shou said this measure will contribute to the alleviation of air pollution.

The three provinces and Shanghai now also share registration information of motor vehicles with the lowest emission standards, forecast air quality together and have a joint research center with quarterly meetings on the bureau level, he said.

Legislators and political advisers from the three provinces and Shanghai have also brought themselves together in supervising environmental matters.

In Shanghai, Shou said the bureau will keep up the effort to reduce air pollution by addressing industrial emissions, even though the emission standards of power plants in the city, for example, are already lower than those in many developed countries.

But a great contributor to air pollutants in the city is emission from motor vehicles — a problem that many big cities in the world face, he said.

In terms of the air quality index (AQI), PM2.5 and O3 are two major pollutants affecting the air quality in Shanghai.

“O3 is exceeding PM2.5 as a top pollutant and its source is very complicated,” Shou said. “We’re addressing the problem of O3 by reducing active substances of VOCs.”

Shou revealed that the bureau will work to apply artificial intelligence to air quality predictions, which will enable longer-term forecasting of air quality.

He also said the bureau is leading efforts for a more detailed census of sources of pollutants and the environmental impact of them. The bureau is joined by other government institutions with authority in certain matters.

“Through this effort we can expect to work out more precise solutions for certain pollution problems, and react more efficiently to environmental emergencies,” he said.

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