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January 15, 2021

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Better air quality, more greenery improve Shanghai’s environment

The environment in Shanghai continued to improve last year. The city’s air quality index was either “good” or “excellent” more than 87 percent of the time, an increase of 2.5 percentage points over 2019 and 11.6 percentage points better than 2015, city authorities announced yesterday.

The yearly average concentration of PM2.5 particles dropped to 32 micrograms per cubic meter, a record low and 36 percent lower than in 2015, according to the Shanghai Ecology and Environment Bureau.

Emissions of four major pollutants — chemical oxygen, ammonia nitrogen, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide — were down 68, 38, 47 and 28 percent, respectively, from 2015, exceeding bureau targets.

The water quality of 95 percent of the 259 major rivers’ cross sections in the city was up to standard, soaring 71.4 percentage points since 2015.

The city’s forest coverage has reached 18.5 percent, compared with 15 percent in 2015, and its per capita green spaces amounted to 8.5 square meters, compared with 7.5 square meters in 2015.

“The city has achieved all targets of its five-year ecological environment protection plan between 2016 and 2020 with significant improvement in ecology and environment,” said Cheng Peng, bureau director.

However, days with excessive pollution haven’t been eliminated, with ozone replacing PM2.5 as the top pollutant. Of the 44 polluted days last year, ozone was the major pollutant on 27 of them and PM2.5 the other 17.

“The emission of pollutants still exceeded environmental capacity, and the current heavy industry structure focused on steel and chemicals, the energy structure steeped in coal and natural gas, and the transportation structure have not changed,” said Bai Guoqiang, chief engineer at the bureau. “Regional transmission of pollutants and adverse weather conditions also pose challenges in the improvement of air quality.”

The city will launch an eighth-round, three-year environmental protection plan to cut the concentration of PM2.5 and ozone, conduct upgrades of major industries and deepen regional coordination in the Yangtze River Delta region to improve air quality, Cheng added.

Upgrade projects on 31 sewage plants in the city were carried out last year, while 17 were built or expanded.

The city’s daily sewage treatment capacity increased by 706,500 cubic meters, hitting 8.4 million cubic meters. Its waste incineration capacity has reached 16,900 tons daily.

The city will continue to reduce carbon emissions, improve air and water quality and lift forest coverage and per capita green spaces by 2025.

“Structural adjustments of energy, industry, transportation and agriculture will be carried out, and low-carbon, eco-friendly industries developed,” Cheng said.

An ecological and environmental protection cooperation mechanism in the Yangtze River Delta region will be strengthened with joint efforts to curb regional pollution.

Meanwhile, Shanghai also made remarkable progress in its greenery campaign last year, according to the Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau.

The city’s greenery coverage hit 18.5 percent, and its per capita green space reached 85,000 square meters. The number of city parks is up to 406 from 165 in 2015, in addition to seven countryside parks and 230 pocket, or small, parks.

“The parks provide an ecological leisure space for residents,” said Zhu Xinjun, the bureau’s chief engineer.

“Many community and pocket parks were built or renovated in the downtown area, and the expansion of the city’s park system is in full swing.”


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