Fri, May 29, 2015 - Page 9 News List

Welcome to Baoding, China’s most polluted city

In February, Baoding was given the unwanted title of possessing the worst air quality in the nation. The city is desperate to reinvent itself as a pioneer of renewable energy

By Jennifer Duggan  /  The Guardian, BAODING, China

It was only when I came across local news reports that the cause of the city’s pollution became clearer. According to preliminary findings of an analysis carried out across Hebei, much of Baoding’s pollution comes from coal-fired steam boiler systems used in more than 100 provincial villages close to the city. These boilers are extremely polluting.

Tackling air pollution has become a national priority and last year, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) declared “war” on pollution. With its economy still largely reliant on coal-fired industries, such as steel and cement, Hebei Province is an important battleground in that war — with its authorities faced with the difficult task of balancing economic growth with environmental welfare.

Already some parts of Hebei are feeling the impact as plants are closed in an attempt to improve the smog in Beijing.

Baoding Chinese Communist Party boss Nie Ruiping (聶瑞平) was quoted as saying: “It is necessary to close some traditional factories to fight air pollution. We cannot sacrifice the environment to make money.”

By harnessing the energy of its new industries, perhaps Baoding might not keep its unwanted new title for long.

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