Three nations drafting an action plan to fight pollution

Three nations drafting an action plan to fight pollution
A man wearing a mask waits for a bus at a bus stand amid heavy haze and smog in Beijing

China, South Korea and Japan are to form two new working groups to tackle air pollution in northeast Asia.

The groups will encourage regional co-operation on technology, air quality monitoring and research.

The three countries will meet and draft a detailed action plan for the first working group, focusing on scientific research on prevention and control of air pollution this year.

This is according to a joint statement issued by the 17th Tripartite Environment Ministers Meeting in Shanghai on Thursday.

The second working group will gather scientific researchers and others to promote technology and policy on air quality monitoring and forecasting.

At the meeting, ministers from the three countries stressed the urgent need to tackle air pollution caused by PM2.5-airborne particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter.

They announced a joint action plan for environmental co-operation from 2015 to 2019. The plan's nine priority areas include air quality improvement, water and marine environment conservation and progress on a green economy.

China will also share more information on dust and sandstorms with South Korea through special channels, with South Korea releasing more accurate forecasts on sandstorms, Yoon Seong-kyu, the South Korean environment minister said on Thursday.

Chen Jining, China's minister of environmental protection, said in a media release that the country has taken tough measures to improve its air quality.

As a developing nation, it has faced challenges from a heavy industrial structure, huge consumption of coal and the economic gap between its eastern and western regions, making air pollution control a long-term mission, Chen said.

"But we are confident of solving this to make a contribution to the region as well as to the world."

Last year, the average concentration of PM2.5 in 74 major Chinese cities was reduced by 11.1 per cent and it continued to fall-by 16.3 per cent-in the first quarter of this year, the minister said.

Energy consumption

Coal consumption last year fell by 2.9 per cent, the first reduction in 15 years, Chen said, adding that total energy consumption last year was 4.26 billion standard tons of coal.

China will promote the continuing co-operation with South Korea and Japan, Chen said, adding that this co-operation has grown to become a major regional environmental platform.

Chai Fahe, deputy director of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, said, "This regional co-operation has been an important channel for China to ease air pollution, especially in technology exchanges."

He added that co-operation in the environmental sector is a necessary and efficient way to curb regional pollution, which will benefit China and the region.

Chai conducted joint research with experts from Australia last year.

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