China, the world's leading polluter, "is winning the war against pollution", to the point of sketching an increase in life expectancy of more than two years, according to a US study released Tuesday
From data collected by 200 receivers across the country, the University of Chicago calculated that the rate of fine particles, which were very harmful to health, had dropped by 32% between 2013 and 2017.
] If this trend continues, the average life expectancy of the Chinese would increase by 2.4 years, according to the study. Fine particles (PM 2.5) play a role in cardiovascular and respiratory diseases as well as cancer
"There is no example of a country achieving such a rapid reduction in air pollution This is remarkable, "says Michael Greenstone, who led the study at the Energy Policy Institute of the University of Chicago.
By contrast, it took more than a dozen years in the United States to achieve a comparable improvement after the adoption of an air law in 1970.
"What the past four years have proved is that things can change, and even quickly, with political will, "Greenstone observes.
Under pressure from public opinion, the communist regime launched in 2013 a plan against pollution to reduce by a quarter the concentration of fine particles in some key areas like around Beijing and Shanghai.
"China is not considered a democratic country and yet it is found that the government has had to take measures that the public demanded, "notes Mr. Greenstone.
The anti-pollution policy was, however, accompanied by an economic cost and the authorities ordering the closure of thousands of factories too close to the city center.
They also decreed at the end of 2017 the end of coal heating, the main source of energy in China, in northern parts of the country. country, even before gas heating systems could be installed. Schools in Hebei Province (north) had to make up their minds to classify in the courtyard, where the temperature was colder than inside …
Winter, traditionally very polluted in the north of China, was relatively pure this year, but a peak of pollution hit Beijing on Tuesday, with a fine particle rate higher than 300 micrograms per m3, more than 12 times the standard recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO ).