China plans controlling winter atmospheric pollution in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei 09-30-2019

Recently, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment released the 2019–2020 Plan for Controlling and Improving Winter Atmospheric Pollution in Beijing, Tianjin, and the Hebei Province and Surrounding Areas (the Plan). The Plan describes general regulations, relevant requirements, and supporting measures related to emissions in detail. Additionally, it gives specific regulations for the emissions of VOCs in chemical industries, and it sets forth arrangements for the control of winter atmospheric pollution in twenty eight provinces and cities such as Beijing, Tianjin, and the Hubei province. The Plan will last for six months, from October 2019 to the end of March, 2020.

The Chinese government aims to achieve specific goals for improving the air quality of the cities of Beijing and Tianjin, as well as the Hubei province and surrounding areas during 2019 and onward. The Plan seeks to control the emission of greenhouse gases, decrease the average concentration of PM2.5 by 5.5% YoY, and decrease the number of days with hazardous levels of pollution by 8% YoY.

Several changes have been made to the pollution control plan

Several changes have been made to the Plan this year.

Firstly, production in the steel industry, cooking industry, and the brick and tile industry will be suspended during the winter and started again in spring. During the winter months, while the use of central heating is increased, steel production will be limited to 50% in major cities such as Tiajin, Shijiazhuang, Tangshan, Handan, Xingtai, and Anyang. In additional cities, steel production may be reduced by up to 30%.

Second, before the end of September, 2019, authorities of each city will be required to complete an investigation of relevant industries. Those industries that do not follow the regulatory policies or that generate air pollution and contamination will be suspended for rectification.

Third, special emission limits for atmospheric pollutants, such as bricks, tiles, steel, petroleum, non-ferrous metals, cement, and industrial boilers will be strictly enforced from the beginning of October, 2019.

It is reported that the Ministry of Ecology and Environment also recently circulated documents outlining environmental administrative punishments throughout all of China during the first half of 2019 as well as relevant regulations detailed by the environmental protection laws of China. Additionally, the government administrated over USD 702 million (RMB 5 billion) of penalties to violating industries throughout the country. The local governments in the provinces of Jiangsu, Guangdong, Hebei, and Shandong enforce greater penalties toward industries that violate the rules.


Atmospheric factors of pollution in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei

In the regions of Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei, as well as in surrounding areas, the physical environment is affected by winds, monsoons, and waves during fall and winter. Additionally, the emissions of pollutants within these areas is three to five times higher than the national average level. Furthermore, the concentration of PM2.5 in these areas increases drastically during fall and winter. Particulate matter within the air is carried downwind to other cities, and pollutants such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide will form into sulfuric acid and nitric acid, causing secondary pollutants. According to statistics related to heavy pollution processes, contributing factors to hazardous air conditions include ground-level wind speeds of less than two meters per second, relative humidity of over 60%, and vertical movement between air layers at a height of less than 500 meters.

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