Taking action on air pollution control in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei (BTH) region: Progress, challenges and opportunities

Li Wang, Fengying Zhang, Eva Pilot, Jie Yu, Chengjing Nie, Jennifer Holdaway, Linsheng Yang, Yonghua Li, Wuyi Wang, Sotiris Vardoulakis, Thomas Krafft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Citations (Scopus)


Due to rapid urbanization, industrialization and motorization, a large number of Chinese cities are affected by heavy air pollution. In order to explore progress, remaining challenges, and sustainability of air pollution control in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei (BTH) region after 2013, a mixed method analysis was undertaken. The quantitative analysis comprised an overview of air quality management in the BTH region. Semi-structured expert interviews were conducted with 12 stakeholders from various levels of government and research institutions who played substantial roles either in decision-making or in research and advising on air pollution control in the BTH region. The results indicated that with the stringent air pollution control policies, the air quality in BTH meets the targets of the Air Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan. However, improvements vary across the region and for different pollutants. Although implementation has been decisive and was at least in parts effectively enforced, significant challenges remained with regard to industrial and traffic emission control, and national air quality limits continued to be significantly exceeded and competing development interests remained mainly unsolved. There were also concerns about the sustainability of the current air pollution control measures especially for industries due to the top-down enforcement, and the associated large burden of social cost including unemployment and social inequity resulting industrial restructuring. Better mechanisms for ensuring cross-sectoral coordination and for improved central-local government communication were suggested. Further suggestions were provided to improve the conceptual design and effective implementation of respective air pollution control strategies in BTH. Our study highlights some of the major hurdles that need to be addressed to succeed with a comprehensive air pollution control management for the Chinese mega-urban agglomerations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number306
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes


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