(Yicai Global) Jan. 3 -- The density of hazardous fine particle matter (PM2.5) stood at 58 micrograms per cubic meter on average last year, 20 percent lower than the same period in 2016, meeting the goals set by the State Council in its Air Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan. This is due to the combined efforts of policies and favorable meteorological conditions, the city's environmental protection office said at a news briefing today.
Beijing had 'good' air quality on 226 days last year, 28 days more than 2016. Severely polluted days fell to 23 last year, a drop of 16 days over 2016, said Liu Baoxian, deputy director of Beijing's Environmental Monitoring Center.
The average density of sulfur dioxide (SO2) fell to 8 micrograms per cubic meter, the first single-digit recording, while the average density of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and inhalable particle matter (PM10) stood at 46 micrograms per cubic meter and 84 micrograms per cubic meter, respectively, an improvement over the previous year, data show.
The significant improvement in Beijing's air quality is due to the combination of 'human efforts and nature's work.' It is the result of sustained emission reductions activities and favorable weather conditions, Liu said.
The human efforts have been the continued shifting of Beijing's non-capital functions, replacing coal with cleaner energy, reducing emissions, eliminating old motor vehicles, vigorously developing public transport, adjusting and shutting down polluting industries, and optimizing the industrial structure. It is also the fruit of improved and more precise urban management, early completion of reforestation projects in level areas, construction of a high-density monitoring network, and severe punishment for environmental violations.
Nature's work refers to the favorable weather conditions prevailing last year. Temperature inversions were less frequent, the air was drier, and the prevalence of the north wind was higher. Cold air fronts came often, and temperatures were lower, especially in the fourth quarter. Four heavy air pollution processes and five seriously polluted days were recorded -- significantly less than in the preceding two years.