According to a July 22 post by Greenpeace East Asia, China’s average PM2.5 air pollution for the first half of 2015 is 16% better than it was for the same period in 2014. That doesn’t mean that China’s air quality is good now, it’s still terrible – five times the World Health Organization’s recommended safe levels. However it seems to be a step in the right direction.
Greenpeace attributes part of the pollution decline to a 5% decrease in industrial coal consumption. Coal is one of the dirtiest fuels used by industry. The post further speculates that stricter environmental laws introduced by China this year may also be having an effect.
But as with all news from China, this report needs to be taken with a grain of salt. The Chinese government, its officials, and other members of the Chinese establishment, have a history of playing fast and loose with the truth. At about the same time Greenpeace was releasing its post, other news from China highlighted this.
A former curator of the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts appeared in court on July 20, charged with secretly selling museum artworks and replacing them with forgeries that he painted. A Wall Street Journal article quoting the July 17 issue of People’s Daily, reports government officials found guilty of corruption as testifying that if they had not accepted bribes it “would have been seen as abnormal” or “wouldn’t have been good for my work”.
So at this point we can’t be sure, but we can hope, that the current pollution data from China really is good news for nature.