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To improve air quality, be alert to the mentality of small wins and full wins

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2023.02.21
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The first day of the rabbit year in Guimao, Fangchenggang, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, was spent in heavily polluted weather due to concentrated fireworks and firecrackers. It is this heavily polluted weather that has raised the annual average concentration of PM2.5 by about 0.5 micrograms/cubic meter, which has dashed the target of 0.0% of the heavily polluted days in the autonomous region this year. At the interview entrusted by the autonomous region government, the relevant responsible person of Fangchenggang City faced up to the problem and sincerely accepted the interview, but the serious impact was irreversible.

On the surface, setting off fireworks is the direct cause of heavy pollution weather. However, if we look for the deep-seated reasons, it has a lot to do with the local lack of understanding of the severe situation and the extreme importance of winning the battle of protecting the blue sky. From the current situation, although the air quality in many places has improved significantly and there are more blue skies, it still needs to make greater efforts to maintain this achievement, and we should not relax. If there is a mentality of small victory and full victory, a slight negligence will affect the completion of the target task of the blue sky defense war.

This can be seen more clearly from the data. With the sharp decline in the total amount of pollutants in China and the gradual narrowing of the space for pollution reduction, the improvement of air quality has reached a crucial stage. The average concentration of PM2.5 in prefecture-level and above cities in China will be 30 micrograms/cubic meter in 2021, and will continue to drop to 29 micrograms/cubic meter in 2022. Behind this microgram is the hard work of countless people across the country. Just one heavily polluted day can raise the annual average concentration of PM2.5 in a place by 0.5 microgram/cubic meter, while in some cities, the annual improvement task is to reduce 1-2 microgram/cubic meter. One or two heavily polluted weather processes may offset the efforts of the whole year.

According to the discussion on setting off fireworks and firecrackers in various places on the eve of the Spring Festival, it can be seen that individual places and some of the public lack sufficient ideological awareness and action awareness of the long-term and arduous nature of air pollution control. They often pay more attention to the pollution emissions of enterprises and less attention to social sources, and underestimate the contribution of scattered small pollution sources to the concentration of PM2.5. Just imagine that if similar situations occur many times or in many places, they will have a negative impact on the overall situation of air quality improvement in the country. What's more, atmospheric pollutants will be transmitted between regions. Heavy pollution weather caused by inadequate measures and control in some places may also have an impact on other places.

In line with the goal of building a beautiful China in 2035 and the needs of the people for a beautiful ecological environment, the prevention and control of air pollution is far from the time of rest and relaxation. The total emission of air pollutants in some key regions is still on the high side, especially in autumn and winter. Once adverse weather conditions are encountered, the environmental capacity is reduced, and the air quality will fluctuate. During the "Fourteenth Five-Year Plan" period, air pollution control entered the deep-water zone, and it needed to be tough. This "hard bone" is our industrial structure and energy structure, and we need to work hard on source governance. At this critical moment, some avoidable and man-made pollutants should be controlled as much as possible.

It is becoming more and more difficult to promote the continuous improvement of air quality. On the basis of consolidating existing achievements and summing up successful experience, it is necessary for all localities to pay more attention to the accurate, scientific and legal pollution control, and to tackle the difficulties in a consistent and in-depth manner. In 2013, Beijing had an average of one heavily polluted day per week. By 2022, the concentration of PM2.5 had dropped to 30 micrograms per cubic meter, creating the "Beijing miracle" of air quality improvement. The reason why we can achieve such brilliant results is that we use comprehensive means to cut out one microgram by one microgram, and behind it is Beijing's unswerving efforts to improve air quality.

According to the report of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the goal of basically eliminating heavy pollution weather by 2025 is very clear. All localities should be soberly aware that achieving this goal is not achieved overnight. It needs to work hard bit by bit and strive for it day by day. Don't be fluky and relaxed, let alone win a small victory and be full. Instead, it is necessary to unswervingly advance towards the goal to usher in more blue skies.

(Song Yang, China Environment News)

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