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A 10% decrease in China air pollution noted over previous year, Greenpeace reports confirmed

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(Credit: Mahmut Atanur/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images) BEIJING, CHINA - DECEMBER 25: A Chinese man walking on a street wears a mask amid heavy smog in Beijing, China on December 25, 2015. Hazardous smog blanketing China's north-east has sparked more red alerts, with authorities advising residents in 10 cities to stay indoors.China issues red alert for smog in 10 cities
January 21
6:20 AM 2016

China has finally recorded a 10% drop in air pollution, compared to its 2014 numbers. This decrease, although small, is an improvement in an otherwise 'dense' scenario. This fact was confirmed by the latest Greenpeace report that was released last Wednesday.

This winter, the intense smog that enveloped northern China led to its first 'red-alert' scenario, which had the government shut down schools and impose restrictions on automobile movement on roads. Despite the intense level of pollution, the Greenpeace data, covering 367 Chinese cities, showed that average levels of PM2.5 fell by 10% over last year, as stated by International Business Times.

However, 80% of the cities could not reach the national air quality standard, and blamed the country's coal consumption for such non-compliance. Reuters mentions some such cities that are in the spotlight. Beijing holds the third spot with PM2.5 levels. The first two positions go to the neighboring provinces of Hebei and Henan whereas Shanghai is all the way down at the 11th position.  

Over the last 10 years, China has been home to a huge number of coal power plants, which has taken emission of greenhouse gases to a whole new level altogether. The drop in pollution levels was a direct result of a fall in coal consumption in the country.

China's growing problem has snowballed into such a crisis that the government feels it is now no less than a war that may have many manifestations - death being one of them. Chron represents that Germany's Max Planck institute has estimated around 1.4 million premature deaths in the country every year, while Berkeley Earth, the non-profit group in California, predicted an even higher figure of 1.6 million.

Hence this small improvement of a 10% decrease is still a long way from calling the air 'safe'. The 'red alert' is a wake-up call for the government to roll out large-scale plans to control the source of air pollutants. There has been a start in the form of reduction in use of coal, which followed a rather startling move to put an end to the use of fossil fuels at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference. The results have already begun to show, albeit at a slow pace. However, not all choked up cities have managed to limit coal consumption yet. Unless the government slams a nationwide cap quickly, the consequences might be quite alarming.

All hopes are now pinned on China's 13th Five Year Plan that is about to be announced. This federal blueprint must establish the ground rules to lift the heavy veil of air pollution that threaten to engulf the country in more ways than one. 

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