Hebei, one of the provinces most heavily affected by air pollution in North China, is taking tough measures on air quality control, the Hebei Daily reported on Nov 8.
Recently, Hebei province has launched an air pollution prevention and control implementation plan, which aims to tackle complicated issues such as industrial polluters; energy consumption, particularly related to coal; and to enhance cooperation on air pollution with its neighboring cities –– Beijing and Tianjin.
According to the plan, by 2017, the annual average concentration of PM2.5 across the province should reach or be lower than 65 micrograms per cubic meter, a drop of 13 percent compared with 2015.
To reach the goal, Hebei has decided to carry out three major tasks.
The first is to control coal consumption and improve efficiency. A total of 18 counties and districts in Langfang city and Baoding city are designated as "coal forbidden areas". The areas are adjacent to Beijing and occupy a total area of 7,148 square kilometers.
From November 2017, companies will be forbidden from using coal within the area, except those providing central heating and coal-powered power plants.
Other areas in Hebei province are being encouraged to use gas or electricity for their energy consumption, rather than coal.
Meanwhile, cutting overcapacity is high on the reform agenda, as excess capacity in sectors such as cement, coal carbonization and steel, has contributed to the province's air pollution.
By the end of 2016, Hebei is to cut annual metal production capacity by 10.39 million tons and steel capacity by 8.2 million tons. Also, inefficient cement plants will be closed, decreasing production capacity by 1.5 million tons.
The coal carbonization industry, as a key polluter, is to have its capacity cut by up to 22.69 million tons by 2017, including 12.4 million tons in 2016.
Four cities in Hebei province, covering Zhangjiakou, Hengshui, Baoding and Langfang, will shut down or relocate all the coal carbonization plants in the region. And Hebei has initiated strict policies to control any increase in future production capacity, with no new carbonization projects allowed.
The third is to establish online monitoring for air pollutants and an early warning system within the province, mainly targeted at sectors such as power generation, steel and iron. Companies found to be violating the new rules will face sanctions.
Also, from each November to the following January, companies responsible for high levels of emissions in Hebei will be scheduled to commence operations using a using an alternate day system, according to the government's instructions, in order to manage air pollution over a certain period.
It is hoped that air quality in Hebei province will be improved through the restrictive measures.