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article imageApp to shame polluters launched throughout China

By Ryan Hite     Jun 9, 2014 in Environment
Beijing - An app was just released that shows which polluters in China are breaking the emissions rules and allows for people to report it to the authorities.
A Chinese environmentalist group launched a new app on Monday that tracks and shames the polluting factories. It highlights how the country is making environmental data more available and enabling more monitoring of companies that do pollute.
The app gives hourly updates on emissions reported by factories to local authorities and shows the plants as colored points on a map, with violators of the emissions standards in red. It also gives the government air pollution data for areas throughout the country.
The Environment Ministry requires 15,000 factories nationwide to report their air emissions in real time to local officials. Since the beginning of this year, the government has required that the data be made publicly available and some provincial governments have started posting it on websites. This is the first time it has been collected in one place.
The availability of such data is a far cry from three years ago, when Chinese authorities kept secret their data on the tiny particles in the air that are considered a good gauge of air quality. Now, PM2.5 particle data is a key portion of published air quality indexes.
Combating pollution has shot up the agenda of the Communist Party, which for years pushed for rapid economic development with little concern about the environment, but has come under increased pressure from citizens tired of breathing in pollution.
Environmental campaigners say supervision is key to stopping local officials from allowing polluters to continue to operate because of their economic benefits.
The new app is produced by the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, which said it allows many consumers to quickly search air quality data for 190 cities and check and share real-time monitoring data for polluters. On Monday, 370 polluters were reported as being over the limits.
Gu Beibei, project manager at IPE, said in the past air quality data was not so user-friendly.
He stated, “If the air quality is bad you can switch (to the factory map) and see who is in your neighborhood,” she said. “It will be a very effective tool for people to voice out their concerns.”
Wang, director of the NRDC’s China Environmental Law Project, said that disclosing data helped to safeguard its credibility.
“When subject to public scrutiny, unreasonable and illogical data can be identified by environmental groups or experts with certain professional knowledge and skills,” she said in a statement.
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