Tougher pollution targets set for Beijing region

Beijing, Dec 31 (IANS) China has set new targets to reduce air pollution in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, vowing to reduce the yearly average benchmark PM2.5 level to 73 micrograms per cubic metre by 2017.

China also plans to reduce the yearly average PM2.5 level in the region to 64 micrograms per cubic metre by 2020, a 40 percent drop from the level in 2013, the Global Times reported on Thursday.

The average PM2.5 level in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region in 2013 was 106 micrograms per cubic metre.

PM2.5 refers to particles with a diametre of or less than 2.5 micrometres, which can easily penetrate lungs.

The target was part of the new “Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei synergetic development and ecological environmental protection plan” was released on Wednesday.

Zhang Yuanxun, a professor of environmental sciences at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said the new targets were “ambitious” and “a tough decision” for the authorities.

“Given the rising number of automobiles and the increasing population, maintaining the current pollution level alone will be difficult enough,” Zhang said.

He added that the government may try to enforce the environmental regulations more strictly and impose more bans on urban traffic.

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