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China seeks advice on air pollution

King’s experts shared knowledge and research to help improve air quality in China.

The delegation headed by Beijing's most senior official -Party Secretary Mr Cai Qi are greeted at King's by President and Vice-Principal (International) Funmi Olonisakin and Professor Ed Byrne, President and Principal.

Air pollution experts from King’s College London welcomed one of China’s most high profile ministers yesterday to provide insight on how London has tackled air pollution to date and sharing knowledge with counterparts in Beijing.

King’s’ Environmental Research Group (ERG), led by Professor Frank Kelly, has made substantial contributions to reducing the capital’s air pollution, including working with its 33 Boroughs to establish the London Air Quality Network (LAQN) 25 years ago. With over 120 monitors, LAQN is the largest urban air quality monitoring network in the world to date.

Professor Ed Byrne, President and Principal and Professor Funmi Olonisakin, Vice President and Vice-Principal (International) from King’s, welcomed Mr Cai Qi, Secretary of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the CPC Central Committee and his Excellency, Mr Liu Xiaoming, Ambassador to the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, with Professor Kelly and colleagues in ERG, to the university’s Strand campus.

The delegation was on a fact-finding mission to London to find out more about transport and air quality issues in the city.

Professor Byrne said: “Some of the biggest challenges to environment and public health we face on the planet today cannot be tackled by single institutions or even single nations alone. It is increasingly vital to share our expertise and knowledge.

“Two of the major issues we face are around sustainable transport in our cities and towns and also the related challenge of improving air quality and reducing pollution. We are delighted that we can share our knowledge and research to help inform the progress of solving China’s air pollution problem, making our world a more sustainable place for all.”


London has always faced enormous challenges over the quality of its air. For a time, it was a city synonymous with smog, the lethal combination of smoke and fog, similarly experience by the residents of Beijing.

Professor Kelly outlined the city’s substantial air pollution problems over the past decades and what measures and policies had made the most impact.

Mr Cai Qi summarised China’s recent improvements, including the reduction of coal-fired powered stations across the country and therefore the reduction of harmful emissions in Beijing by over 20%. The amount of coal being consumed for heating purposes has also decreased from 30 million tonnes a year to around 6 million tonnes per year.

Leading the way

Professor Kelly said that Beijing is leading the way in Asia, ‘making all the right changes’ to enable them to meet their pollution reduction targets. London was able to move closer to its target by introducing low emission zones, which in the future would need to include car free zones and continued investment in public transport, he said.

China is now aiming to target vehicles in Beijing, especially larger diesel vehicles, to reach their next emissions target.

Find out more about the Environmental Research Group and the work the Group conducts to make London a cleaner and more sustainable place.