Shanghai air cleaner than ever last year, but there's still more work to do

Ma Yue
Shanghai's air quality was excellent or good last year on over 80 percent of days, according to a report issued by the Shanghai Bureau of Ecology and Environment.
Ma Yue

For the first time, Shanghai’s air quality was excellent or good last year on over 80 percent of days, according to a report issued by the Shanghai Bureau of Ecology and Environment.

The average densities of PM2.5, PM10, SO2 and NO2 were all new lows since air quality standards were introduced in 2013. The average density of PM2.5 pollutant particles was 36 micrograms per cubic meter last year — a 7.7 percent drop.

Efforts are still required to fully meet the city’s clean air plan, under which heavily polluted days — with an Air Quality Index higher than 200 — will disappear by 2020.

Shanghai has a target of bringing the average density of PM2.5 below 35 micrograms per cubic meter by 2022.

“We mostly have the weather to thank for air quality last year,” said Shou Ziqi, director of the bureau. "We should try to maintain the good results we have achieved while continuing to improve details during future work for a better ecological environment."

After improvements to the city's air quality in the past few years, soil pollution and solid waste disposal became the new high priorities for the city’s law advisers during the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Shanghai Committee's meeting in January.

The proposals were noted by environment authorities, including Shou.

“Environment treatment and protection is a big task that requires the cooperation of all administrative departments and groups,” said Shou.

Shou was named director of the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau last year. The bureau changed its name to the Shanghai Bureau of Ecology and Environment this year.

According to the bureau, Shanghai has developed 11 specific action plans covering 11 ecological environmental protection related themes.

The “coal cutting plan” says that by 2020, Shanghai’s consumption of coal will be 5 percent less than in 2015.

The use of coal will be controlled in the iron and steel industries, petrochemical industries and electric power generation.

Heavy polluting vehicles will be forced or encouraged to be taken off the road, while a long-distance online monitoring system for diesel vans and trucks will be built up to prevent them entering restricted areas.

The environmental management of the city’s sources of drinking water will be improved by upgrading monitoring, alarms and emergency responses to avoid pollution caused by transportation, agriculture and manufacturing.

Other plans cover the structural improvement of the chemical industry, the promotion of green energy cars and green transportation at ports and airports, and the protection of Shanghai’s wetlands and forests.

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