China Orders Stricter Air Monitoring
Chinese authorities have announced plans to force major cities to monitor fine particulate matter emissions, acknowledging that the move is partially in response to online activism. "A stirring campaign on the country's social network websites since last autumn seemed to have gained a satisfying response from the country's policymaker," said the Xinhua news agency. The plan involves stricter pollution monitoring in 27 provincial capitals, the Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai, and Tianjin megacities, and three major industrial belts. "This is a major step forward in terms of China's process to combat urban air pollution," said Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs. "It doesn't mean that the sky will turn blue automatically because at the end of the day we still need to cut off these emissions." In December, China's monitoring was called into question after a month-long smog grounded planes and caused road closures. While data from the U.S. embassy's air monitoring system reported hazardous levels of pollution and one day that was "beyond index," the China Environmental Monitoring Center released data showing Beijing to be "slightly" polluted. Beijing residents began independently collecting pollution samples and posting the results online. For the full story, see http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/01/china-air-pollution-tough-rules. Earlier: http://elr.info/UPDATE/archive/update41-35.cfm#international.