Northern China has been shrouded in choking smog in recent days. The capital Beijing has kept its orange alertfor heavy pollution for over 200 hours, the longest ever.
Although the government has poured enormous sums into tackling air pollution, the public can hardly feel the impact.
Official data showed that Beijing’s overall air quality has improved, but only marginally.
For example, there were 12 more “blue-sky days” in 2016 than in the previous year, or a total of 198 days.
The capital also saw its PM2.5 concentration fall 9.9 percent to an average of 73 micrograms per cubic meter in 2016 from the year before, although that’s still 109 percent above the national standard, according to data released by the municipal government’s environment protection bureau.
In its 13th five-year plan (for 2016-2020), the national government has listed several targets to improve the country’s air quality.
The nation aims to curb total energy consumption to within 5 billion tons of standard coal equivalent by 2020, and reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP to below 15 percent.
Non-fossil sources are targeted to account for more than 15 percent of the nation’s total energy consumption, with the share of natural gas rising to 10 percent.
The proportion of energy from burning coal will be capped under 58 percent.
In order to meet these targets, the authorities aim to build a large number of hydro and nuclear power plants, and further develop renewable energy such as wind and solar power.
The government will also further liberalize the natural gas storage and transport facilities sectors, as well as encourage the use of natural gas in the utilities business, industrial production and transportation.
Government support for natural gas consumption should benefit relevant companies, including exploration, sales and pipeline firms.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan. 6.
Translation by Julie Zhu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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