World Bank approves US$500mn for Beijing to clean ‘polluted’ air

epa05217537 A woman and child wearing protective masks take a stroll outside a shopping mall in Beijing, China, 18 March 2016. Beijing authorities are planning to implement, by the end of March, adjustments in criteria for issuing smog red alerts. A red alert, the highest warning, is issued when air quality index readings exceed 200 over three days. In the adjusted criteria, a red alert would be issued when index readings go over 500 for one day, exceed 300 for two days in a row or 200 for four days.  EPA/ROLEX DELA PENA

SHANGHAI / Reuters

The World Bank has approved a $500 million loan to China to support financing of projects to help control air pollution in and around Beijing.
The money is part of a broader programme expected to reach $1.4 billion for “green financing” over the next six years that includes another half billion dollars from Hua Xia Bank Co Ltd and $400 million in equity contributions from sub-borrowers, the World Bank said.
China suffers from severe air pollution and is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide. Some 70 percent of its electricity comes from coal-fired power plants, which are a major source of greenhouse gases.
The country aims to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels by increasing the share of nuclear, hydro, wind and solar power, with the goal of cutting emissions of major pollutants in the power sector 60 percent by 2020.
The money will help companies in Beijing, Hebei, Tianjin and neighbouring areas that are taking action to tackle air pollution under a prevention and control plan adopted by China’s cabinet, the State Council, such as reducing coal consumption and lowering emissions.
Beijing-based Hua Xia Bank will establish a Green Finance Centre and pilot innovative financing models and products, it said.
Beijing frequently features near the top of the list of China’s most polluted cities as emissions from vehicles and heavy industry combine with weather conditions to raise smog levels. The worst bouts of air pollution tend to coincide with periods of low wind.
For Beijing and its surroundings, the government has set a target for 2020 of reducing pollution by 40 percent from 2013 levels.

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