The Cost of Cleaning China’s Filthy Air? About $817 Billion, One Official Says

Authorities rush out pledges and promises as another choking winter looms

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Lintao Zhang / Getty Images

A woman walks with her mouth covered at Tiananmen Square in Beijing during a sandstorm on March 9, 2013

China will need to spend nearly 5 trillion yuan, or $817 billion, to fight air pollution, according to Fang Li, spokesman of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Environmental Protection. Fang’s startling estimate came on Sept. 23 as he released the Chinese capital’s antipollution blueprint, which promises significant improvements in air quality by 2017.

Beijing alone will have to fork out $163 billion to clear its skies, according to Fang. The Chinese capital has for many years suffered from serious air pollution, but the smog reached record levels last winter when choking haze engulfed the city for weeks. Forced into action by the ensuing public outrage, the government is now unveiling its clean-air strategy as another undoubtedly toxic winter looms.

According to the plan, Beijing will cut its PM-2.5 index (which measures the tiny airborne pollutants that are most harmful to human health and are one of the main causes of smog) to around 60 micrograms per cu m by 2017. The target is a huge reduction compared with the present figure — the average PM-2.5 index in the first six months of 2013 was 102 — but it is still far above the safety limit of 10 recommended by the World Health Organization.

(MORE: Airing Out Beijing — Inner Workings of the World’s Megacities)

The Beijing environmental bureau said the primary sources of the capital’s pollution are motor-vehicle emissions, coal consumption, sandstorms from the north and construction dust. First among these air contaminants is coal, which is still the preferred energy source in China. In order to meet its target reduction, Beijing plans to reduce its coal consumption to 10 million tons per year, down from the current 23 million tons. The city will also close 1,200 polluting factories and pledges to limit the number of vehicles it permits on the road to 6 million, even though tens of thousands of new drivers are being added to the rolls each year.

Surrounding regions will have to play their part too. An analysis by Greenpeace noted that as much as 70% of Beijing’s pollutants are produced outside the municipality’s borders, in nearby provinces like Hebei and Shandong, which rely heavily on coal consumption. Fang says that the central government has “given objectives to nearby provinces and cities … so if they can take care of their own problems, Beijing will be fine with our own target.”

Earlier this month, the Chinese central government issued a national plan to combat air pollution, ordering local governments to reduce PM-2.5 levels. Each month, the Ministry of Environmental Protection will release a list of China’s top 10 most polluting cities, and officials have been told their promotions will be affected if their cities are on the list.

MORE: From Gold to Green: E-Commerce Titan Jack Ma Is Turning His Attention to Cleaning Up China’s Pollution

102 comments
jefforsythe9
jefforsythe9

Cost of lying about cleaning up the pollution that is known as Mainland China, zero. For some reason Western Media has led its audience to believe that the gangster Chinese Communist Party cares in the least about the welfare of its people. It does not and Western media cares only about corporate greed. The CCP has murdered eighty million of its own people since 1949. Fact.

呵呵
呵呵

已尿。有钱治空气还不如捐点给我呢

rivers
rivers

who make such an pollution in an large scale, now a lot of much money is used to control the pollution. the best way to stop the pollution is stop the big steel factory and another huge coal consumption factory ,such big factory didn't solve the unemployment, only continue waste people tax. the people can choose to do another job, the government can create another job. an better management level should be on the track to control pollution instead of an QE policy

Annie Jobs
Annie Jobs

They have those cyclonic air circulation things at our airports. The soapy stuff is necessary, I suppose, because of the "smoking rooms" which to me are disgusting.

Arny Conner
Arny Conner

Eco-friendly...this is one thing I agree with the dems.

Luke Chan
Luke Chan

Easy, execute some fellahs,

Szu Yuan Pu
Szu Yuan Pu

Mind your own business!! We love this kind of air, China insists not to breath western style air for 100 years!

Andrea Villalba
Andrea Villalba

they won't do anything... it will only get worse... stop buying their products!

Ossie Sharon
Ossie Sharon

They can take it from the trillion$ they get from the rest of the world to forget about their human rights violations.

ysprefer
ysprefer

Sily text, Chairman mao said, "who cares a nuclear war, even if half of the people died during the war,  we will still have 300 million people". China stand up at no mercy of any people, and China is not Syria, which can be easily, be fooled by foreign hostile powers. We have lost many territory in the last 200 years because of foreign invasion. If there is another war, we do not fear, let blood win us the respect from the world, and gain back what is us.

Terry Deng
Terry Deng

Never believe what ever the official said,nothing do with the Chinese people.

Jonathan Lee Brooke
Jonathan Lee Brooke

Is that why two-noses China dude, had that problems? Who broke the winds?

Sarah Nila
Sarah Nila

BUT no no no. They will move to the U.S. to mess up our air here; starting with Irvine.

Ceyhan A Caglar
Ceyhan A Caglar

Develope countries (U.S.,China,Russia,Europe,Japan )should launch hard laws who give a damage to environment.If a businessmen or company opens a factory ,they must made treatment plant near the factory also they must use filter to their chimneys and if the company or businessmen doesnt comply to this , governments (states ) must give hard penals to them.Also we must use solar-wind-wave energy systems on our vehicles/buildings.China is really retro position for that but China,India and other countries who have a high population must comply these mesthods for protect the world nature.

drudown
drudown

The World Community needs to reorganize debt and promulgate new funds in order to deal with Industrial pollution such that any purported "cost" concerns are obviated by International Trade Agreements. There is no more time to let "the market take care of the solution" when it is unequivocal that the market players are hell-bent on preventing the status quo from ever changing. 

Hans Petersen
Hans Petersen

taamaammat filterilersuiniarsarilerput ajunngeqigamik

Janet Welling
Janet Welling

They have the money. They just don't have the desire to do it.

Frederick Kim
Frederick Kim

So where would 1/6 of the world's population live then?

Strahl Sund
Strahl Sund

ANTICHRIST LEADING THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH IN A WHOLLY WAR AGAINST US AND OUR FAMILIES !!! http://antichristinvatican.blogspot.com/ THE PROBLEM IS NOT WITH WHAT YOU FRANCIS ARE SAYING OR "WHO AM I TO JUDGE GAY"(another cluster f**** created by government psychiatrists/psychologists in war against us and our families), THE PROBLEM IS WHO YOU FRANCIS(Obama priest scumbag is what you are) ARE >>>NOT

Lisa Blue
Lisa Blue

and yet the way they make money is the cause of their pollution. That bloody country has a LOT to answer for!!!

RobertBain
RobertBain

Good luck building iPhones when you can't see two feet in front your face. Thank you capitalism. It was greed, and no regulations, that killed them.

Tara St Wood
Tara St Wood

China will kill its own people just by the air they breathe

ASEANAmerica
ASEANAmerica

@Szu Yuan Pu haha, good one. Westerners cannot understand the ancient Chinese tradition of cancerous air worship :P

ASEANAmerica
ASEANAmerica

@ysprefer too bad it wasnt your ancestors that got wiped out, China would have had a higher average IQ!

ysprefer
ysprefer

@Potski Portugues in the same way, you can say that the Syrian people has cheap life, and enjoy the Arab spring, we will see.

ysprefer
ysprefer

@ASEANAmerica @ysprefer No one like war, but when hard times come, some hard decision has to be made, Many people blame Chairman for his various kinds of policies, people may criticize him for his policies, but people shall also remember, that, he was a leader hardened by wars, and the experience of Japan invasion, force him to think about preparation against war as a paramount issue.  I am disgusted by you, even more if you are of a Chinese descendant. No matter whatever problems that China may have, it is still our Mother, no matter whether the air in Beijing is good or not, it is still the Capital of China, and no matter you have a IQ higher or lower, you are less than worthless, in case to forget your own country and harm it with other countries.