China has confidence in reaching its ambitious air pollution reduction goals as scheduled, based on data for the first 11 months, the environmental protection minister said on Sunday, crediting the scientific and comprehensive efforts taken in the past years.
The five major goals set by the national Action Plan Against Air Pollution in 2013 are likely to be achieved by the end of 2017, with a huge improvement in air quality in China, said Environmental Protection Minister Li Ganjie at the annual meeting of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development on Sunday in Beijing.
The council is a high-level international advisory body to gather foreign experts to promote China's sustainable development.
In the first 11 months, Beijing has seen the average PM2.5 concentration lowered to 58 micrograms per cubic meter, reduced by 35.6 percent from the same period in 2013, according to the Beijing Environmental Bureau.
Beijing has seen many blue days in December, with air quality staying at the good level, "and based on the data, we may see the annual average level of PM2.5 in Beijing lowering to around 60, maybe at 61 or 62," the minister said, adding that it's better than forecast.
He added that the reduction goal for Beijing－lowering PM2.5 level to 60－was considered more difficult compared with other goals, which worried him before.
Beijing is likely to attain its goal, so China has confidence it will reach the five major goals as scheduled, Li said.
The other four goals would be easily in reach if the good air quality level continues for the remaining days of the year.
In the first 11 months, the average concentration of PM10 in 338 cities nationwide was 20.4 percent less than the same period of 2013, and the goal in the action plan was 10 percent, Li said.
In addition, the average PM2.5 concentration in the first 11 months in three major industrial zones－the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, the Yangtze River and the Pearl River Delta－has been at least 25.6 percent lower, easily exceeding the goal of at least 15 percent, the minister said.
The huge improvement in air quality was achieved based on the multiple measures including strengthened enforcement, scientific efforts, effective measures to reduce industrial emissions, vehicle exhausts, coal consumption, and other efforts in improving the economy, the minister said.
"The effective practices adopted in the past five years will continue to guide the air pollution control efforts in future," Li added.
China's effective environmental protection efforts, particularly in air pollution control, received praise from many foreign experts in environment from governments and international organizations who participated in the annual meeting.
Diane Regas, executive director of Environmental Defense Fund, a US non-profit organization, was amazed to see China fulfilling its commitment and was confident about further improvements based on the measures.
UN Environment said China has set an example for the rest of the world of sustainable development through green industrial policies, especially in areas of electric transportation, solar energy and the "sharing economy".