The 10th China City Air Quality Management Workshop: Air pollution Emergency Response Management
The 10th city air quality management workshop themed air pollution emergency response management was held on June 24-25, 2014 in Beijing which was co-organized by the Foreign Economic Cooperation Office (FECO) of the Ministry of Environmental Protection of China (MEP) and Clean Air Asia (CAA) with the support from the Energy Foundation China. The objective of the workshop was to support implementation of the Air Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan and the revision of the Law of People’s Republic of China on the Prevention and Control of Atmospheric Pollution and city air pollution emergency response management. Eighty participants attended the workshop, including officials from MEP, US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and Singapore National Environment Agency (NEA), representatives from 20 provinces and cities, and experts from universities and research institutions.
Mme. Li Pei, Deputy Director-General of FECO hosted the opening ceremony and delivered the opening speech. She expressed her welcome and gratitude to all the participants and partners. She introduced the background of the workshop and pointed out the positive role that previous nine China City Air Quality Management workshops have played in promoting experience exchange and enhancing cities’capacities on air pollution prevention and control. Mr. Yan Jingjun, Deputy Director-General, Center of Environmental Emergency and Accident Investigation, MEP pointed out that the workshop themed on air pollution emergency management is highly timely and relevant; he also called for more proactive response to tackle heavy air pollution in the future. Mr. Lu Shize, Director of Air Division, Pollution Prevention Control Department, MEP introduced the progress and priorities of their work since the issuance of the Air Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan in September 2013, and emphasized the importance of air pollution emergency response. Mr. Zhao Lijian, Program Director of Environmental Management, Energy Foundation China said that human resources, materials resource and funding input are all necessary in air pollution prevention and control and extended the willingness to conduct further cooperation with the FECO and CAA to provide provinces and cities in China with international experiences and practices. Dr. Fu Lu, China Director at CAA expressed her sincere gratitude to partners, sponsors, experts and representatives from provincial and municipal level. She said that CAA will keep providing cities with technical support and platform for experience sharing and communication on urban air quality management; she also invited guests and representatives to join the Better Air Quality Conference (BAQ 2014) on November 19-21, 2014 in Sri Lanka.
The workshop introduced international experiences on heavy air pollution emergency response management, laws and regulations of air pollution emergency response in China, air quality monitoring at regional level and in key cities, and the building of forecasting and alerting mechanism. In-depth group discussions were organized to discuss the good practices and challenges of city emergency response management, recommendations for improvement as well as technical and administrative support needed.
Currently, a number of provinces and cities in China have frequent, long-lasting heavy air pollution episodes which were caused by complicated factors and hard to eliminate within a short period of time. In order to actively respond to heavy pollution, improve air quality and reduce the health impacts on human beings, 13 provinces and cities in China have already developed the emergency response plan. Among them, megacities such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou have well-developed foundations in terms of pollution forecasting, reporting and plan implementation. Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei and Yangtze River Delta region are currently building regional forecasting and alerting platforms. However, generally speaking, China cities lack experiences of heavy air pollution response and vary in capacities. The areas city representatives discussed most for improvement include how to increase accuracy of monitoring and forecasting, how to ensure the emergency response plan is scientific-based and practical for implementation, and how to assess the plan’s effectiveness.
Experts provided targeted suggestions based on international experiences and domestic research progress:
1. Strengthening the implementation of current laws and regulations on air pollution prevention and control is of vital importance. Emergency response plan should be used as a supplementary measure; it should not overshadow regular emission reduction and pollution control measures and cannot replace the latter and become a long-term mechanism.
2. As the foundation of heavy pollution emergency response management and regular air quality management, the research capacity regarding air pollution emission inventory and source appointment, as well as emission permit system should be improved.
3. Using air quality monitoring and forecasting system to release timely and accurate information and official guidance can help reduce the negative impact on citizens. For example, AirNow— the forecasting and information distribution platform of US，plays an effective role in helping environmental protection agencies communicate with general public and enhance its credibility. Singapore is also experienced in improving the public awareness and educating the general public of health protection.
4. The formulation and implementation of emergency response plans should be more specific and economical. The cost and benefits of such measures should be studied. The presentation on Asian observations introduces the pilot projects of ABACAS model that conducts emission control and results assessment in Yangtze River Delta region.
Representatives found the international experiences and domestic best practices introduced at the workshop very useful for their daily work. They hope to have more opportunities for technical exchange and platforms for capacity building. Mr. Wang Yong, Director of FECO and Dr. Fu Lu, China Director of CAA responded to the needs of the representatives and expressed that FECO and CAA will continue providing support to China cities on urban air quality management.