CHINA / SOCIETY
China's air quality continues to improve in 2020, extreme weather occurs: report
Published: May 26, 2021 06:53 PM
Photo: Shan Jie/GT

Photo: Shan Jie/GT

Air quality in China continued to improve in 2020 with the country's efforts to beat the air pollution in  past years, according to an annual report on the country's environmental condition on Wednesday. Authorities noted that the country was affected by extreme weather in the past year while underlining the supervision system and international cooperation.

Among China's 337 cities, 202 have met the air quality standard in 2020, accounting for 59.9 percent, 13.3 percent higher than the year before. The cities on average enjoy 87 percent of days with good air quality, which indicates their air quality index (AQI) was lower than 100. 5 percent higher than 2019, according to the China Environment Report 2020 published by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) on Wednesday.

In 2020, cities with the best air quality were Haikou in South China's Hainan Province, Lhasa in Southwest Tibet Autonomous Region, and Zhoushan of East China's Zhejiang Province. Anyang of Central China's Henan, Shijiazhuang in North China's Hebei Province, and Taiyuan of North China's Shanxi Province had the worst air quality in the country.

Among the main pollutants, PM2.5 density was found at a rate of 33 micrograms per cubic meter. Densities of six pollutants, including PM2.5, PM10, O3, SO2, NO2, and CO have all declined, according to the report.

Carbon emissions dropped by 1 percent more than 2019 and 18.8 percent more than 2015, completing the goal of the 13th Five-Year Plan (2015-20).

"We should keep a clear mind that the improvement of environment quality is not stable. Environmental conservation still has a long way to go in China," Bai Qiuyong, chief at the Department of Ecological and Environmental Monitoring of MEE noted at the monthly press conference on Wednesday. Bai said that the remainder of the problems come from air quality, the water quality of rivers, groundwater, and offshore seas, as well as the marine ecological system.

Moreover, China experienced a year with an unusual climate in 2020. According to the report, the average temperature in China was 10.25C in 2020, 0.7C higher than average. Meanwhile, the country's average rainfall was 694.8mm, 10.3 percent more than usual. 

The country suffered a serious flood disaster. A total of 37 storms occurred in the country. Southern China experienced the most severe floods since 1998.

The extreme weather continues to show its effects in 2021. In spring, northern China was hit by several rounds of severe sandstorms.

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A "wall" of dust rolls forward in Linze county, Northwest China's Gansu Province as a sandstorm hits the county on Sunday. According to the Gansu meteorological authorities on the same day, many other locations in the province would soon experience gales of varying degrees, accompanied by sandstorms. Photo: cnsphoto

Mongolia and the western parts of North China's Inner Mongolia experienced abnormal temperatures, 2-6C higher than usual since February 2020, which caused the sandstorms, Li Jianjun, Chief Scientist on Atmospheric Environment Monitoring at the China National Environmental Monitoring Centre, revealed at the press conference on Wednesday. Li said that China has built up an alert system to monitor dust, using satellites and remote-sensing technologies to grasp the condition of meteorology. 

"The sandstorms which happened this year show that there is still a huge space in international cooperation in environmental management," Li noted.

With regards to biodiversity, the country has identified 122,280 species, including 54,359 animals, 37,793 plants, and 655 viruses. The country has also found more than 660 alien species, with 69 national natural reserves having found 219 invasive alien species.

China will hold for the first time the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) in October in Kunming, Yunnan, one of the cities with the most biodiversity in the country.

On Wednesday, the MEE also published the Marine Environment Report 2020, suggesting that the marine environment remained stable this year. 

However, monitoring of radioactive substances in China's offshore sea showed that due to Japan's dumping of contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, the activity concentration of Cesium-137 in the seawater exceeded the erstwhile level of the western Pacific. Cesium-134 still can be detected. The activity concentration of radioactive substances in marine animals and marine sediments showed no abnormality, the report said.


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