Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province in southern China, will invest 6 billion RMB (around USD 95 million) to reduce PM2.5 pollutants. This recent move shows the city’s ambition to meet the new requirements outlined in the central government’s report “Ambient Air Quality Standards,” which listed PM2.5 particles as ordinary pollutants to be monitored.
PM 2.5 refers to particulate matter in haze and fog measuring 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, which generally comes from activities that burn fossil fuels, such as traffic, smelting, and metal processing.
During a discussion hosted by the Guangzhou Environmental Bureau on April 25, experts voiced concerns that the sum of 6 billion RMB would be far from enough to address the problem, and that neighboring cities should also join the effort. “It is difficult to meet the goal set by officials within four or five years,” Professor Fan Shaojia of Sun Yat-sen University said. “We should carry out the plan step by step.” According to Fan, air pollution caused by PM2.5 tends to cover a large area and can transfer between different regions, so cities near Guangzhou also play a crucial role in overall particle reduction. Other experts warned of short-lived government investment in air quality improvement, citing the importance of long-term commitment and heavier restrictions and consequences for polluting factories.
Residents of Guangzhou are concerned about the new campaign. One citizen said “the most important thing is the effects. After spending six billion yuan collected from taxpayers, the municipal government ought to prove to citizens that there are indeed much fewer foggy days.” Another citizen urged the government to be transparent in their use of allocated funds so the public knows where the money is spent.
After hosting the 2010 Asian Games, Guangzhou reopened several factories which have worsened air quality in the city. According to the Guangzhou Environmental Bureau, the city had 50 heavily polluted days over the past year.