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Beijing to Spend $2.5 Billion To Fight Air Pollution

Plans include eliminating high-emission cars and coal use

According to sources at Beijing’s environment department, the Beijing government plans to spend 16.5 billion yuan (US$2.5 billion) to improve the city’s air quality this year.

Much of the money will be used to replace outdated vehicles and reduce the Beijing’s dependence on coal. 200,000 high-emission vehicles will be removed from the city’s roads, while clean energy use will be promoted in about 400 villages located around the capital.

The money is a significant boost when compared with the 2.1 billion yuan ($332.4 million) pledged to fight air pollution in 2012, the first year the Beijing government began publicly publishing air quality data.

However, both amounts fall short of the estimated 1.75 trillion yuan ($266 billion) required to clean up China’s national air pollution between 2013 and 2017. In 2013, deputy head of the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning, Wang Jinnan, said the action plan would “drive up GDP by nearly two trillion yuan (£202b) and create over two million jobs”.

Greenpeace reports that Beijing’s air quality “definitely improved” in 2015, but that’s taking into consideration that Beijing remains one of the most polluted places to live in China, ranking just behind Henan as the location with the highest annual PM 2.5 concentration at 80.4.

All the same, average PM2.5 concentration dropped by 10 percent across China in comparison to 2014 levels, and cities like Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen all saw decreases in PM2.5 concentration. Conversely, Shanghai’s PM2.5 levels increased by about 3 percent.

Last December, Beijing issued its first-ever red alert for air pollution during an unusually smoggy winter.

Greenpeace estimates 4,400 people in China die everyday from air pollution-related causes.

Charles Liu

The Nanfang's Senior Editor