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9 Jun, 2016

World Bank loans US$500 million to help Hebei Province, China, cut deadly air pollution

WASHINGTON, June 6, 2016 (World Bank media release) — The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a loan of $500 million to help China’s Hebei Province reduce air pollutants.

“Hebei has the highest annual average PM2.5 concentration in the Jing-Jin-Ji (Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei) region. It is also responsible for about 70% of the emissions in the region as a result of the concentration of highly polluting industries, vehicles, and a large agricultural sector,” said Garo J. Batmanian, World Bank’s Lead Environmental Specialist and project team Leader. “Hebei has set a goal to reduce PM2.5 by 25% by 2017 compared to 2012. This operation, together with the World Bank-funded Innovative Financing for Air Pollution Control in Jing-Jin-Ji program, will contribute to the achievement of this goal.”

PM2.5 is the most critical pollutant for public health in China. It is a particle matter with an aerodynamic diameter equal to or less than 2.5 microns, which is 20 to 30 times smaller than the human hair.

The Hebei Air Pollution Prevention and Control Program seeks to reduce emissions of specific air pollutants in  key sectors, such as iron and steel, cement, power, transport, and agriculture in Hebei. The program will focus on four result areas:

  • Comprehensive control of industrial enterprises and reduced emission of multi-pollutants from key industrial sectors, by establishing a robust, continuous emissions monitoring system to ensure that industrial enterprises meet the government’s emissions standards on a daily basis.
  • Area pollution and dust control, through measures to promote the use of clean and efficient stoves, optimize the use of nitrogen-based fertilizers in crops, improve crop residue management, and improve waste management in animal husbandry farms.
  • Prevention and control of emissions from mobile sources, by reducing vehicular emissions and fuel-related activities, including support for electric bus manufacturers and elimination of old and highly polluting vehicles.
  • Establishment of monitoring and warning systems, and planning tools, by creating a smart platform for monitoring the ecological environment of the whole province, strengthening the data collection system, and developing the provincial 13th 5-year plan for air pollution prevention and control.

“We believe this program will make a substantial difference in reducing air pollution,” said Bert Hofman, World Bank’s Country Director for China. “And it is at the core of our partnership with China, which aims, among others, for greener and more equitable growth.”

The program’s total investment will be $968 million, of which $500 million will be financed by the IBRD loan. It will adopt the Program-for-Results (PforR) lending instrument, a tool developed by the World Bank that aims to better link loan disbursements to tangible results on the ground.

The residents of the JingJinJi region are expected to benefit from reduced air pollution and the resulting improved health impacts. Beneficiaries will also include the national government, which can apply the lessons learned from this operation in the other two regional air pollution control programs, as well as the provincial and municipal governments in Hebei, which will build up technical capacity to implement the air quality prevention and control measures.