The revision of the Air Pollution Control Law represents an opportunity to strengthen supervision of the environment and addresses new environmental challenges such as management of air quality in cross administrative areas and traffic pollution. In May 2010, the Environment Management Program of the Energy Foundation (EMPEF) supported staff from the Ministry of Environment Protection(MEP), Committee of Environmental Protection and Natural Resource Conservation (CEPNRC) of the National People’s Congress, the Commission of Legislative Affairs of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, the Legal Affairs Office of the State Council, the Supreme People’s Court and Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences (CRAE) in making a visit to the United States concerning the formulation and implementation of the US Clean Air Act. The delegation has entered into dialogue with departments under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Air and Resources Commission of California (ARCC) and some NGOs. Major topics covered during the visit included the division of rights of central and local governments to environment management, the mechanism and measures for regional pollution control, the system of pollution discharging licensing, the system for the controlling the total discharge of pollutants, the relationship between air pollution and climate change and legal control of GHG emission, among others.
International experience and practice in air quality guarantee work during the Beijing Olympic Games have shown that Air Basin-based regional air quality management is an effective institutional innovation to control city agglomeration pollution and improve China’s urban air quality. EMPEF is working together with Peking University, Tsinghua University, the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning (CAEP) of the MEP and international experts to provide support for the establishment of joint prevention on regional pollution. These works have summarized existing research into air quality guarantees during the Beijing Olympic Games, the Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta urban conurbations and have introduced relevant international experiences and lessons. Beyond these, it has also supported the MEP in hosting the International Seminar on Joint Prevention and Control of Regional Air pollution in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province on March 25 to March 26, 2010. The successful convocation of the Seminar has played an active role in building the joint prevention and control mechanism for regional air pollution, effectively stimulating the enthusiasm of three regions and six agglomerations in conducting joint prevention and control of regional air pollution. It is termed by experts to be a mobilization meeting on joint prevention and controls on regional air pollution.
The General Office of the State Council transmitted the notice of departments concerned, including the MEP, on the Guiding Opinions for Promoting the Joint Prevention and Control of Air Pollution and Improving Regional Air Quality on May 11, 2010, which has provided a policy basis for the urban conurbations of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei, and the Pearl River and Yangtze River Deltas to put in place a new mechanism, conduct unified planning, governance and supervision, implement still stricter environment quality and pollutant discharging standards and coordinate in addressing major issues of regional and urban air pollution control. The Sixth Session of the International Seminar on Regional Air Quality Management, jointly hosted by the MEP of China and the EPA of the US and supported by the EMPEF was held in Beijing from October 11 to 12, 2010. Environment Minister Zhou Shengxian and Lisa Jackson, director of the US EPA attended the meeting and delivered speeches. The 1.5-day long seminar conducted in-depth discussion on the plan for joint prevention and control of regional air pollution and relevant policies during the twelfth Five Year Plan period, policy measures for coal control and the demarcation of a fuel-free area, sci-tech support for controls on regional air pollution, etc. Meanwhile, EMPEF is working with CAEP to conduct research into the implementation roadmap for policies concerning joint prevention and control of regional air pollution.
The fundamental goal of air pollution control is to improve air quality and protect public health and the environment. As new types of mixed air pollution worsen and there remains no appraisal standard or indicator for fine particles which lead to haze and severely harm human health, the air quality appraisal indicator and system needs to be urgently revised to improve the air quality appraisal of ozone and fine particles and increase corresponding appraisal indicators. EMPEF supported CRAES, MEP and the EPA to hold an international symposium on the formulation and implementation of ozone and fine particles (PM2.5) standards in May 2010, which introduced in great detail international experiences and expertise. The Program continues to support CRAES in putting forward plans concerning the improvement of air quality appraisal system and in soliciting pubic input. Meanwhile, it also supports the Environment Schools of Peking University and Nankai University in conducting cost-benefit analysis on standards for fine particles and climate-friendly strategic research on urban airborne particle reduction and on providing technical support for decision making.