China Adopts New Air Quality Standard
China‘s State Council recently announced new air quality standards that will improve public health and reduce climate pollution. At an all-ministerial meeting chaired by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in February, officials agreed to release a revised ambient air quality standard. While the new standard is intended to reduce conventional pollutants and improve air quality, the standard importantly—and unexpectedly—includes a limit on fine particulate matter (known as 'PM 2.5'), which includes 'black carbon,' a climate forcer.
More than two-thirds of Chinese cities currently do not meet the new standard and will thus have to take strong actions to comply. The policy goes into effect in 2016, but the Ministry of Environmental Protection is requiring early implementation in some key cities and provinces, including Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing, and all provincial capital cities.
The air quality news comes at a time of increased public awareness and engagement, escalating media coverage, and focused NGO advocacy. The China Sustainable Energy Program (CSEP) and the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP) have long supported the development of PM 2.5 standards. Key CSEP grantees have worked on these standards since 2008, and include partners such as the China Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, Peking University, and the Global Village of Beijing.
Looking ahead, CSEP and its partners will continue to support government agencies as they turn to implementing, enforcing, and improving the new air quality standards. In particular, CSEP will work with the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development on a special policy study of a PM 2.5 reduction strategy. Members of Network organizations including RAP, theInternational Council for Clean Transportation, and the ClimateWorksshort-lived forcers initiative have been invited to join the panel that will be involved in the study.