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China’s Air Pollution Problem Needs Faster Action, Environment Groups Warn

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China’s air quality has been a problem for many years, mostly because of its industrial economy that relies heavily on fossil fuels. But the focus on keeping abreast with the global economy has been costing citizens, as smog caused by heavy air pollution continues to be a widespread health issue.

The Chinese government has been moving to fix the problem, cutting down on coal-based factories and plants. There is a need to step up these efforts, however, as environment watchdogs warn that smog levels in Beijing and elsewhere will take years to clear, posing a continuous hazard to the people.

Greenpeace East Asia and the Shanghai Qingyue Environmental Protection Center released a report on Tuesday that showed a grim picture of the country’s air quality. According to projections, Beijing will meet national standards for PM 2.5 – the particles in the air that are harmful if they enter the bloodstream – by 2027. It will meet the World Health Organization standard by 2046, which means Chinese citizens will suffer for many more years to come, CNBC reports.

Dong Liansai, a Greenpeace East Asia climate and energy campaigner, said,

At the current rate of improvement, red alerts and ‘airpocalypses’ will remain a feature of many Chinese citizens’ lives for some time to come.

China has given a national pledge to improve air quality, but there has been a “slowing progress” in the northern regions of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei. PM 2.5 concentrations were greater in October 2016 than they were in 2015, while December recorded the second worst air pollution on record.

Shanghai and Guangzhou are expected to fare better in meeting the national environment standard – in 2019 and 2017, respectively, the report added. For now, both organizations are urging the government to come up with more efficient national coordination in order to cut down on the number of years before northern China can live in smog-free conditions.

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