【英语中国】北京市将发布PM2.5数据 向公众压力让步

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所属分类:双语中国

2012-1-9 17:21

小艾摘要: Authorities in China's notoriously smoggy capital have announced that they will start publishing more accurate data on air pollution this month, bowing unexpectedly to a social-media campaign driven b ...
Authorities in China's notoriously smoggy capital have announced that they will start publishing more accurate data on air pollution this month, bowing unexpectedly to a social-media campaign driven by the U.S. Embassy publishing its own data via Twitter.

Beijing will be the first Chinese city to publicize hourly air-quality data based on what's known as the PM2.5 standard, which measures particles smaller than 2.5 microns. These cause the most-serious health problems because they get deep inside the lungs. Chinese authorities now publish data on larger air particles, of up to 10 microns in diameter.

The decision represents one of the most significant examples yet of Chinese authorities' yielding to public pressure exerted principally over the Internet via microblogs, which are similar to Twitter and have become hugely popular over the past few years. It comes less than three weeks after a public appeal by Vice Premier Li Keqiang for local governments to use the PM2.5 standard, which most experts recommend.

The appeal of Mr. Li, the favorite to become premier in a leadership change starting late this year, reflects concern among Communist Party leaders about growing public anger over environmental issues, especially air pollution, analysts say.

Beijing residents have become increasingly aware that the official air-quality readings are consistently more positive than the PM2.5 data, which the U.S. Embassy has been tweeting since 2008.

On Friday, the U.S. Embassy's tweets called Beijing's air 'very unhealthy' for most of the morning, and 'unhealthy' in the afternoon. Beijing's official reading for the entire day was 'good'─the second-best category, which officially makes it a 'blue-sky day.' Officially, Beijing enjoyed 286 days of 'blue skies' in 2011, up from 252 days in 2010.

The Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau said late Thursday that it would start providing hourly PM2.5 readings on its website by the start of the Lunar New Year on Jan. 23. The national government had previously said PM2.5 readings were only for internal use and did not have to be made public until 2016.

The surprise decision was announced following a tour of Beijing's air-quality-monitoring facilities by Environment Minister Zhou Shengxian. He was quoted on his ministry's website on Friday as saying: 'The state of Beijing's air quality relates to the national image and the physical and mental health of the capital's 20 million people.'

Environmental activists and experts said they expected several other Chinese cities to take similar steps this year, although some expressed concern about how precise the new readings would be, and whether they would prompt the government to curb air pollution.

'This does come as a surprise,' said Li Yan, head of the climate and energy campaign for environmental group Greenpeace in East Asia. 'It's an encouraging sign. But at the same time, it's only the first step because the public is still very worried about air quality and getting to know the data doesn't solve the problem. It's action that is needed.'

Some analysts say the credibility of party leaders is being undermined by the frequent discrepancy between official statements and statistics and independent information that is increasingly available online, despite the efforts of China's Web censors.

Beijing, ranked by the World Health Organization as one of the world's most-polluted cities, is regularly shrouded in choking smog that grounds flights, forces parents to keep children indoors and causes widespread respiratory problems. Yet Beijing authorities maintain that air quality has been steadily improving, and regularly report 'blue-sky days' even when no blue sky is visible.

Even based on China's PM10 readings, 32 of its cities that track pollution fall short of WHO standards, according to a report on air pollution world-wide that the agency published in September.

Beijing was the fifth-worst with average annual levels of 121 micrograms per cubic meter of air, compared with a global average of 71 and a recommended level of 20. The most polluted city in the U.S. based on PM10 was Bakersfield, Calif., with an average of 38 micrograms, according to the WHO report.

Beijing's decision represents a victory of sorts for the U.S. Embassy, which, according to U.S. diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks, came under pressure from Chinese officials to stop publishing its data. Some Chinese officials, and experts, publicly called the embassy's readings inaccurate, noting it has only one monitor and did not use exactly the same methodology as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy said Friday: 'We have an ever-expanding collaborative relationship with our Chinese counterparts in the environmental arena. One aspect of this collaboration is in mitigating air pollution.'

He said the Embassy had recently added the phrase 'at 24-hour exposure at this level' to its readings, to clarify how they should be interpreted, and bring them into line with EPA standards.

Another key player in the social-media campaign was Pan Shiyi, a billionaire property developer, who launched an online vote in November via his microblog on whether China should use PM2.5. Tens of thousands of people voted in favor. 'Good news!' wrote Mr. Pan on his microblog Friday, in response to another message from his wife, Zhang Xin, saying: 'We have saved our air! Knowing the truth is the first step. After that there will be all kinds of solutions.'

北京市有关部门宣布,将于本月开始公布更加准确的空气污染监测数据。这一出人意料之举意味着,面对受美国驻华大使馆通过Twitter公布自己的北京空气污染监测数据推动的社交媒体运动,北京市有关部门做出了让步。北京市的雾霾天是出了名的。

北京市将成为首个每小时公布一次基于PM2.5标准的空气质量数据的中国城市。PM2.5标准监测直径小于2.5微米的颗粒物,这种颗粒物可以深入人的肺部,因此对人体健康危害最大。中国有关部门目前公布的是对直径最高可达10微米的更大颗粒物的监测数据。

Reuters2011年12月,一个雾霾天气笼罩下的北京,一名女子路过中国央视大楼。北京市的决定是目前为止中国有关部门向公众压力做出让步的主要例证之一。公众的压力主要通过微博施加,过去几年中微博获得了很高的人气。不到三周前,国务院副总理李克强公开呼吁地方政府采用大部分专家建议的PM2.5标准。

李克强是将于今年下半年举行的领导人换届中最有希望成为总理的人选。分析人士说,他的呼吁反映出共产党领导人担心公众对环境问题(特别是空气污染)日益不满。

北京市民日益意识到,相比美国大使馆2008年以来通过Twitter发布的PM2.5数据,中国官方的空气质量监测数据常常更加乐观。

上周五,美国大使馆在Twitter上说,北京市大多数早晨的空气质量为“非常不健康”,下午的空气质量为“不健康”。北京市官方发布的全天监测数据则为“良”,是第二档好天气,官方将其归为“蓝天”。官方公布的数据显示,2011年北京蓝天数为286天,较2010年的252天有所增加。

北京市环保局上周四晚间说,将于1月23日春节前开始在其网站上每小时更新一次PM2.5监测数据。中央政府此前说,PM2.5监测数据仅用于内部使用,2016年前不必公布。

北京市宣布这一出人意料的决定前,中国环境保护部部长周生贤视察了北京市空气质量监测设施。环保部网站上周五援引他的话说,北京的大气环境质量状况,事关国家形像和首都2000万人民的身心健康。

环保活动人士和专家说,他们预计今年其他几个中国城市将效仿北京市的做法,但一些人对PM2.5监测数据的准确性表示担心,他们还怀疑这些数据是否能促使政府控制空气污染。

环保组织“绿色和平”(Greenpeace)东亚地区气候与能源项目主任李雁说,这真是令人意外,这是一个令人鼓舞的迹象,但与此同时,这只是第一步,因为公众仍然非常担心空气质量,仅仅知道这一数据不能解决问题。我们需要的是行动。

一些分析人士说,官方声明和统计数据与网上日渐增多的独立信息之间频频出现差异令党的领导人的公信力被削弱。尽管中国政府审查网络内容,但此类独立信息还是越来越多。

北京被世界卫生组织(WHO)列为全球污染最为严重的城市之一,它经常被笼罩在呛人的烟雾中。这样的烟雾可令航班停飞,迫使家长把儿童留在室内,并导致民众普遍出现呼吸问题。但北京有关部门却坚持认为,北京的空气质量一直在稳步提升,即使不见蓝天,有关部门依然定期公布“蓝天”天数。

WHO去年九月发布的一份全球空气污染报告显示,即使基于中国公布的PM10数据,中国追踪空气污染状况的城市中仍有32个不符合WHO的标准。

按年平均水平计算,北京每立方米空气中可吸入颗粒物的数量为121微克,在全球污染最为严重的城市中排名第五。相比之下,全球平均水平为71微克,WHO的建议水平为20微克。WHO的报告显示,按PM10数据计算,美国污染最为严重的城市是加州贝克斯菲尔德(Bakersfield, Calif.),其平均污染水平为38微克。

从某种意义上说,北京决定启动PM2.5监测是美国大使馆的胜利。据维基解密网站(WikiLeaks)公布的美国外交电文显示,中国官员曾向美国大使馆施压,要求其停止发布PM2.5数据。部分中国官员和专家公开宣称美国大使馆的数据不准确,指出其只有一个监测装备,且使用的监测方法同美国环境保护署(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)使用的方法并不完全一致。

美国大使馆发言人上周五说,我们与中国同行在环保领域的合作关系不断扩大。合作的一个方面便是降低空气污染程度。

这位发言人说,美国大使馆最近给发布的数据增加了“24小时暴露于这一污染浓度的空气中”的说明,以澄清数据的解读方法,也令发布的数据符合美国环境保护署的标准。

在社交媒体上发起这场运动的另一位关键人物是地产开发商、亿万富翁潘石屹。去年11月,潘石屹通过自己的微博就中国是否应启动PM2.5监测发起网络投票,成千上万的人投票赞成。潘石屹上周五在微博上说道:喜讯。他这条微博是在回应他妻子张欣的另一条微博:我们的空气污染有救了!知情是第一步,然后就一定会有各种解决的办法。

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