Air pollution in 39 major northern Chinese cities up by 16 per cent

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Shanghai: Air pollution in as many as 39 major northern Chinese cities rose 16 per cent on the year in January, official data claimed, with surging industrial activity making it increasingly unlikely they will meet their winter emissions targets.

Average concentrations of small, hazardous particles known as PM2.5 in two major northern Chinese emissions control zones climbed 16 per cent from a year earlier to 114 micrograms per cubic metre, according to Reuters analysis of official pollution data.

China has vowed not to ease up when it comes to fighting pollution even amid an economic slump, but rising emissions of lung-damaging smog last month suggest that some provinces could struggle to balance that goal with an upturn in industrial production.

“The reasons for the increases in PM2.5 levels are not hard to identify,” said Lauri Myllyvirta, an energy analyst with environmental group Greenpeace, who noted that steel, thermal power and cement production surged throughout the region in the final quarter of 2018.

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