China key regions meet modest winter air quality targets, as cleaner heating offsets swelling industrial emissions

China’s three key air pollution control regions met their modest winter targets as efforts to reduce heating-sector emissions and improved end-of-pipe controls in industrial plants offset a more than 10% increase in coal power and heavy industry output. However, more than 80 cities in 16 provinces experienced a substantial number of heavy pollution days in 2020, making the target to “basically eliminate” such days by 2025 a significant nationwide challenge: 10 provinces, including Beijing and Hebei, will need to realize reductions in PM2.5 levels of 20% or more during winter episodes to meet the target.

CREA has carried out detailed modelling to identify the source regions of pollution in cities that recorded a significant amount of heavy pollution days, showing where action needs to be taken to reduce emissions if the 2025 target is to be met.