SHANGHAI (Reuters) - The smog-prone northern Chinese province of Hebei has fulfilled its 2013-2017 targets to cut pollution, coal consumption and steel capacity, the local government said on Wednesday.
Hebei, home to six of China’s 10 smoggiest cities in the first three quarters of this year, is on the frontline of the country’s “war on pollution” and is beginning a stringent winter campaign to curb emissions.
As part of a 2013 action plan to tackle smog, Hebei was ordered to cut concentrations of hazardous airborne particles known as PM2.5 by 25 percent by the end of this year, as well as cut steel capacity by 60 million tonnes and coal consumption by 40 million tonnes.
Yin Guangping, vice-head of Hebei’s environmental protection bureau, said the province had cut PM2.5 to 64 micrograms per cubic meter in the first 10 months of this year, a 38.5 percent decline since 2013, according to a report on the bureau’s website (www.hebhb.gov.cn).
Hebei, China’s biggest steel producing region, had also cut steel capacity by 69.9 million tonnes by the end of September, and reduced annual coal usage by 37.3 million tonnes to 2016, with another 6 million tonnes of cuts expected this year, said Zhang Guohong of the local economic planning agency.
China as a whole is aiming to cut steel capacity by 100 million to 150 million tonnes over 2016-2020, although another 64 million tonnes of new smelting capacity is currently under construction, according to industry consultancy Taike Steel.
Environmental group Greenpeace said earlier this year that despite the closure program, net steel capacity could have risen by 35 million tonnes last year, adding that the focus on capacity rather than output could undermine the war on pollution.
Hebei’s crude steel output rose 1.9 percent in the first three quarters of 2017 to 149.75 million tonnes, according to official data.
Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Richard Pullin