Public Release: 

New guidelines to tackle China's severe air pollution problem

Taylor & Francis Group

More must be done to tackle air pollution in China, according to a leading climate change expert in a new study published today in the journal Atmospheric and Oceanic Science Letters.

Professor Wang Hui-Jun, from the Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, outlines five specific ways in which the issue could be more effectively managed. These steps, which can also be applied to other heavily polluted countries, center upon the need to conduct more research to better identify the cause of the pollution, and create more effective prevention and control methods.

Specifically, these strategies are:

  • Identifying the role of human-caused emissions on climate change.
  • Understanding what other factors (particularly, climate change and variability) affect air quality.
  • Recognizing the formation process and creating in advance prevention and control regulations.
  • Promoting the seasonal prediction of air pollution.
  • Implementing stricter air pollution prevention and control policies in key areas such as central North China.

It is emphasized in the paper that behind all the action points outlined, deepening scientific understanding of air pollution is crucial in order to better manage the problem.

In China, the pollution problem has progressively worsened. At the same time, both the public and government departments lack the necessary knowledge of its formation, the causes, and ongoing management.

China has invested substantial financial, human, and material resources in reducing the emissions of pollutants, and in promoting scientific research and technological development to support the protection of the atmosphere. Research has even been supported by organizations such as the Ministry of Science and Technology, the China Environment Protection Agency, and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

However, Professor Wang outlines that so far, the actual effects of current attempts to control and manage haze pollution in the country are very limited, with air pollution still occurring frequently. One such recent example occurred in Tianjin and the surrounding areas, when a continuous outbreak of a wide-ranging and persistent haze pollution on 17 December 2016 caused two long-term severe haze pollution processes within 20 days.

Professor Wang comments, "The motivation of this paper is to offer some clarification on the key issues related to haze attribution and control measures. It is hoped that if these guidelines are put into practice the solution to the problem could be more achievable."

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This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41421004) and the National Key Research and Development Program of China (Grant No. 2016YFA0600704)

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