Nearly 90 percent of China’s big cities failed to meet air quality standards last year, but that was still an improvement over 2013, as the country’s “war on pollution” began to take effect, the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection said yesterday.
The ministry said on its Web site that only eight of the 74 cities it monitors managed to meet national standards last year on a series of pollution measures such as PM2.5, which is a reading of particles found in the air.
China said last year it would “declare war on pollution” and it has started to eliminate substandard industrial capacity and reduce coal consumption.
In 2013, only three cities — Haikou on Hainan island, Lhasa and Zhoushan — met the standards.
They were joined last year by Shenzhen, Huizhou and Zhuhai in Guangdong Province, Fuzhou in Fujian Province and Kunming in Sichuan.
Of the 10 worst-performing cities last year, seven were located in the heavy industrial province of Hebei, which surrounds Beijing, the ministry said.
The cities of Baoding, Xingtai, Shijiazhuang, Tangshan, Handan and Hengshui, all in Hebei, filled the top six places.
The ministry said the average PM2.5 reading in the Beijing-Hebei-Tianjin region stood at 93 micrograms per cubic meter last year.
The state standard is 35 micrograms, but China does not expect to bring the national average down to that level before 2030.
The central government has identified Hebei as a top priority when it comes to cutting smog, and it has set targets to slash coal consumption and close polluting industrial capacity, but the province has struggled to find alternative sources of growth.
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