context: The new three-year action plan comes after the previous plan, rolled out in 2013, expired at the end of 2017. The new plan expands PM2.5 reduction requirements to all cities nationwide. It also tightens regulations on VOCs and NOx emissions that are key to the formation of ozone pollution. The new plan still lacks specific targets on reducing GHG emissions, but the plan’s inclusion of the issue is significant nonetheless.

State Council released a new three-year air pollution action plan on 3 July, laying out targets for 2020

  • emissions of SO2 and NOx to drop by more than 15 percent compared to 2015 levels
  • cities with low air quality to reduce their PM2.5 concentrations by over 18 percent compared to 2015
  • number of polluted days to drop by more than 25 percent from 2015
  • Beijing to set a stricter air quality standard

Key regions are

  • Jingjinji and its surrounding regions
  • Yangtze River Delta
  • Fenwei Plain in Shaanxi and Shanxi provinces

Key tasks include

  • adjusting industrial structures
    • strictly controlling capacity expansion of ‘energy-intensive and highly polluting industries’
    • cleaning up ‘scattered, chaotic and polluting’ firms
    • fostering green industries
  • adjusting energy structures
    • switching more households to clean heating
    • capping total coal consumption in key regions
    • rectifying coal-fired boilers
    • encouraging more efficient energy utilisation
    • accelerating clean energy development
  • adjusting transport structures
    • raising the share of railroad in freight transportation
    • promoting new energy vehicles, eliminating old and polluting vehicles and upgrading vessels
    • upgrading fuel quality standards
    • controlling pollution from mobile sources
  • optimising land use arrangements
    • encouraging wind-breaking and sand-fixing
    • suspending or reducing production in open-pit coal mines
    • controlling dust pollution
    • enhancing integrated utilisation of straw and controlling ammonia emissions
  • launching special inspections targeting
    • pollution emissions in key regions during autumn and winter seasons
    • pollution from diesel trucks, industrial kilns and furnaces
    • volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emissions
  • enhancing integrated regional prevention and control mechanisms on pollution
    • improving regional air pollution control coordination mechanisms
    • developing emergency response measures to heavy pollution and implementing policies staggering production during autumn and winter seasons
  • improving environmental legislation
    • levying an environmental tax on VOCs emissions
    • increasing central budgetary and tax support
  • enhancing capacity building
    • improving environmental monitoring networks
    • enhancing environmental enforcement and inspections
  • clarifying responsibilities and increasing public participation