By Ma Yue
BEIJING, Oct. 20 (Xinhuanet) -- Shanghai has its own emergency response system in place to deal with air pollution that would see school, factories and construction sites closed when the air turns toxic.
The Shanghai government announced the plan yesterday, a day after Beijing rolled out a similar program.
The city has a two-tier system in place since March to gauge the severity of air pollution.
Air Quality Index between 201 and 300 is the first level while AQI surpassing 300 is the second level, where pollution is considered serious.
When the air quality index reaches or is forecasted to reach the second level, the city government will enforce the emergency response program, according to Wu Qizhou, deputy director of the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau.
It would mean shutting down schools, factories and construction sites and limiting vehicular traffic on the roads.
Wu said the city’s air quality index has never reached the dangerous second level since the system was adopted in March.
Shanghai is aiming to lower the density of tiny PM2.5 pollutants by 20 percent by 2017, as part of its five-year goal for the improvement of air quality.
PM2.5 refers to air-borne particle matters smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, which are the main cause of urban smog and pollution and are harmful to human health.
According to an Air Cleaning Plan issued yesterday, the control of PM2.5 remains the main task in the next few years.
The average density of the dangerously small PM2.5 particles in Shanghai’s air was 57 micrograms per cubic meter last year, with 70 percent of the days meeting the air quality standard.
New measures will be gradually adopted to cut PM2.5 emissions and improve air quality by cooperating with departments in charge of fields like energy, transportation, construction and agriculture.
The 180,000 vehicles in the city, which have been rated “heavily polluting,” will be banned within the Outer Ring Road starting next July and will be phased out by 2015.
The transportation authorities will also promote the construction of “green harbors” and encourage boats to use power from shore and clean fuel products.
About 5,000 more charging stations for electric vehicles will be built.
The measures in the energy sector will emphasize controlling gross energy consumption and improve energy structure.
Key measures include cutting gross coal consumption, replacing or closing 2,500 medium and small-sized coal boilers and 300 industrial boilers, and eliminating scattered coal burning by 2017.
The city will also promote environment-friendly buildings, enhance ecological cycle in agricultural development and control agricultural pollution.
Meanwhile, 4,600 hectares of greenbelts will be built and contribute to a better air quality for the city’s ecosystem, according to the plan.
Traditional indexes tracking sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and respirable particulate matter (PM10) in the air showed trend of improvement, with the concentration of the three materials in ambient air in 2012 decreasing by 58, 15 and 19 percent, respectively, from 2007, thus meeting the goal of air quality improvement plan for the last five years.
(Source: Shanghai Daily)