More than two dozen cities in north China have drawn up a detailed action plan to address the notorious winter smog.
Targets and deadlines were outlined in the action plan, which was drafted by several ministries and the governments of Beijing, Tianjin, and 26 smaller cities in the provinces of Hebei, Shanxi, Shandong and Henan.
By the end of October, 13 cities including Beijing vowed to close the majority of polluting businesses that operate on a small scale, provide low-end services, hold insufficient licenses, or do not have sufficient emission treatment facilities.
In the next seven months, the cities of Beijing, Tianjin and neighboring Langfang and Baoding will ban the use of small coal-fired furnaces for winter heating. Areas in these cities will be declared completely “coal free.”
Air pollution is more astutely felt in north China in winter. While high concentration of industrial and vehicle emissions are the main culprits, static air and the use of coal for winter heating worsen the situation, experts say.
Provinces around Beijing are also home to the country's major steel-makers, coal mines, aluminum producers, and chemical plants.
The action plan says cities with dense heavy industries in the provinces of Hebei and Henan will roll out a seasonal reduction on steel output capacity, aiming to slash it by half this winter. Aluminum and chemical plants will also scale down production.
Regarding car exhausts, all 28 cities will install monitoring facilities to watch over diesel and high-emitting petrol vehicles. The port of Tianjin, a key sea port in the region, will stop receiving coal by road. Most cargo will be transferred to rail.
A name-and-shame list is ready for local officials as well. According to the plan, the Ministry of Environmental Protection will publish a monthly list profiling the work undertaken by 28 cities to improve air quality. It will be a “major” criterion on performance evaluations of officials.