• China expands air quality drive to other regions, temporarily shutting down industry

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

Efforts to improve air quality are spreading in China, leading to closures of industrial facilities, as a report by Reuters has described. A determined effort to improve air quality began in Beijing and the surrounding province of Hebei, the heart of Chinese steelmaking, some years ago. More recently, however, the coastal province of Jiangsu near Shanghai has also begun a drive to improve air (and water and soil) quality, leading to the temporary closure of steel, cement, petrochemical and coal-fired power plants, especially in the industrial cities of Xuzhou and Lianyungang. Local governments appear to have been motivated by a comment by President Xi Jinping during a visit last December, in which he said that “the new concept of green development should be strictly followed”. According to China’s National Environmental Monitoring data, PM2.5 levels in Xuzhou have been between ~30-130 µg/m3month to month, with World Health Organisation guidelines recommending a safe level of 10 µg/m3 as an annual mean. There is thus very good reason for China to be acting to reduce pollution, though the affected companies and workers may not see it solely in terms of the environment. It appears that local governments may see deindustrialisation as the solution to the problem of balancing environmental quality and economic development, with the regional economy moving away from heavy industry and into information technology and business services.