Four cities in Guangdong were ranked among China’s top ten cities with the best air quality last year on a list released by the Ministry of Environmental Protection yesterday.
Pearl River Delta has the most cities for the best air quality in top ten for two consecutive years.
Shenzhen came after Haikou, capital of Hainan Province, Zhoushan in Zhejiang Province, and Lhasa, capital of Tibet. It was followed by Zhuhai (5th), Huizhou (6th
) and Zhongshan (10th) in Guangdong Province.
Nearly 90 percent of China’s big cities failed to meet air quality standards in 2014, but that was actually an improvement on 2013, as the country’s “war on pollution” began to take effect, the ministry said.
Only eight of the 74 cities it monitored in 2014 managed to meet national standards on a series of pollution measures such as the amount of PM2.5 particles, carbon monoxide levels and ozone depletion.
In 2013, only three cities — Haikou, Lhasa and Zhoushan — met the standards. Last year, they were joined by Shenzhen, Huizhou, Zhuhai, Fuzhou and Kunming, according to the ministry.
Although its smog is infamous, Beijing did not find its name among the 10 Chinese cities with the worst air quality in 2014.
Of the cities on that list, seven were located in the heavy industrial province of Hebei, which surrounds Beijing, the ministry said. Baoding, Xingtai, Shijiazhuang, Tangshan, Handan and Hengshui — all in Hebei — filled the top six places.
The ministry said the average PM2.5 reading in the Beijing-Hebei-Tianjin region stood at 93 micrograms per cubic meter last year, and despite the new national standard being 35 micrograms, China does not expect to bring its national average down to that level before 2030.
The government has identified Hebei as a top priority when it comes to cutting smog and has set targets to slash coal consumption and lessen reliance on heavily polluting industries, but the province has struggled to find alternative sources of growth.
Beijing had 45 days where pollution levels were considered “heavy” last year by the city’s environmental protection bureau, based on its report on the city’s air quality.
Days with heavy pollution took place in every month except June, August and September in 2014, the report said, adding that during the heavy pollution days in 2014, over half of the pollutants came from neighboring regions.
China said last year it would declare war on pollution and it has started to eliminate substandard industrial operations and reduce coal consumption.