The China Eco-City Tracker is a project initiated by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (APF Canada). It traces, visualizes, and analyzes the environmental data of China's 31 provincial capital cities and direct-administered municipalities. It offers the users a tool to track the changes in environmental protection performance of China's major cities since 2013.
Indicators used in this project are grouped into four main categories: 1) air quality; 2) water quality; 3) solid waste; and 4) socio-economic indicators. For each of these four categories, data are displayed on a map that shows the ranking of each city, as well as on a chart that allows for customized inter-city comparisons.
Statistics and information included in the project are mainly from Chinese government sources such as the China Statistical Yearbook. The database is updated annually when new data becomes available. APF Canada also produces reports and analyses to highlight significant trends.
This project aims to help Canadians better understand environmental protection in China, and assist Canadian governments and businesses to identify potential opportunities in China's clean technology market.
More information on Methodology, Data Sources, and Glossary can be found below.
In the China Eco-City Tracker project, we present indexes reflecting air, water, and soil qualities as well as quantities of elements that may impact these qualities. Gross domestic product and population data are also included for the users to capture the economic and demographic sizes of each city.
Data manually collected from primary sources are cleaned and then visualized using Tableau software. The project employs city-level data for most indicators, except for the water quality index, for which only provincial-level data are available instead. While all provinces follow the same national standard for grading the surface water quality, some record the overall quality of all water bodies within the jurisdiction and others record separate ratings for rivers, lakes, and reservoirs, with an increasing use of the former conduct. For cities that do not record the overall quality, data on river quality is used as an approximate. In a very few cases, the percentages of surface water with different grades do not add up to 100% due to water drying up.
Missing data points on residential population are left blank. See Glossary for socio-economic indicators for more details on the residential population measurement in China.
Data for Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan are currently not available to us, and are therefore not included in the project's database.
The province that each city is located in is indicated on the maps and charts. The 22 provinces, 5 autonomous regions, and 4 direct-administered municipalities shown here are all considered as provincial level jurisdictions in China, and therefore labelled as “Province” on the maps and charts.
The project uses official statistical records and a few open sources, including news reports from the government and mainstream media outlets, to collect its raw data. Most of the data sources were only available in Chinese at the time of data collection.
Main data sources include:
1. China Statistical Yearbook (中国统计年鉴) 2014-2018
2. China Urban Construction Statistical Yearbook (中国城市建设统计年鉴) 2013-2017
3. Environmental Bulletin (环境状况公报) of each region, 2013-2017
4. Statistical Bulletin on Economic and Social Development (国民经济和社会发展统计公报) of each city, 2013-2017
Air Quality Indicators
Annual percentage of days with polluted air quality refers to the annual percentage of days with an Air Quality Index (AQI) worse than or equal to Grade 3, derived from the raw data on the number of days in a calendar year when AQI≤100 (i.e., days with an AQI of Grade 2 or better). It is calculated as:
Annual % of days with AQI > 100 = (365 - Number of days with AQI ≤ 100) ÷ 365
Air quality index (AQI) is calculated based on the levels of six atmospheric pollutants – sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), suspended particulates 10 μm or less in aerodynamic diameter (PM10), suspended particulates 2.5 μm or less in aerodynamic diameter (PM2.5), carbon monoxide (CO), and ozone (O3) – measured at the monitoring stations throughout each city in China.
- Grade 1 for an AQI value between 0 and 50; it indicates excellent air quality with no health implications.
- Grade 2 for an AQI value between 51 and 100; it indicates good air quality, with some pollutants slightly affecting the health of a very few hypersensitive people.
- Grade 3 for an AQI value between 101 and 150; it indicates lightly polluted air quality, with slightly worsened symptoms for sensitive people and irritations for healthy people.
- Grade 4 for an AQI value between 151 and 200; it indicates moderately polluted air quality, with considerably worsened symptoms for sensitive people, and possible impacts on the cardiac and respiratory systems of healthy people.
- Grade 5 for an AQI value between 201 and 300; it indicates heavily polluted air quality, with significantly worsened symptoms and reduced exercise tolerance for people with cardiac and respiratory diseases, and widespread symptoms for healthy people.
- Grade 6 for an AQI value greater than 300; it indicates severely polluted air quality, with reduced exercise tolerance and noticeably severe symptoms for healthy people.
- Days with AQI>100 are considered "non-attainment days" in that the ambient air quality does not meet the environmental standard.
Volume of industrial sulphur dioxide/nitrogen dioxide emission refers to the volume of sulphur dioxide/nitrogen dioxide discharged to the air in the processes of fuel burning and industrial production.
Volume of industrial dust emission refers to the total volume of solid dust discharged by industrial enterprises in the production process, such as dust of refractory materials from iron plants, dust from coke-screening systems or sintering machines at coking plants, dust from lime kilns, cement dust from building material enterprises, etc. Smoke and dust discharged by power plants are excluded from this category.
Volume of residential sulphur dioxide/nitrogen dioxide/dust emission refers to the volume of sulphur dioxide/nitrogen dioxide/dust discharged to the air in the process of fuel burning in social activities, economic activities other than industrial production, and operations of public facilities.
95th percentile of daily average carbon monoxide concentration refers to the 95th percentile value of effective 24-hour average CO concentrations in a calendar year when ranked from low to high.
90th percentile of eight-hour ozone concentration refers to the 90th percentile value of effective daily maximum eight-hour average O3 concentrations in a calendar year when ranked from low to high.
Fine particles, or PM2.5, refers to suspended particulates 2.5 μm or less in aerodynamic diameter.
Water Quality Indicators
Percentage of polluted surface water refers to the percentage of surface water with a Water Quality Index (WQI) of Grade IV or worse, which is the sum of the percentages of surface water with water quality of Grades IV, V, and worse than V.
Water quality index (WQI), also commonly referred to as water quality standard (WQS) in China, is a five-level grading system that measures the quality of a water body. The detailed grading standard and method can be found in the "Environmental Quality Standard for Surface Water" (GB 3838-2002).
- Grades I and II indicate excellent water that can be used in first-class drinking water protection zones, habitats for rare aquatic species, fish and shrimp spawning grounds, and feeding grounds for fish larvae and young fish.
- Grade III indicates good water that can be used in second-class drinking water protection zones, fish and shrimp wintering grounds, migration routes, aquaculture areas, and swimming areas.
- Grade IV indicates lightly polluted water that is only suitable for industrial use and entertainment purposes that do not involve direct contact with human skin.
- Grade V indicates moderately polluted water that is only suitable for agricultural and display purposes.
- Water quality worse than Grade V indicates heavily polluted water that hardly has any function except for regulating the local climate.
Quantity of waste water discharged refers to the total quantity of residential and industrial waste water discharged, including waste water discharged from drainage pipelines and ditches, in the reference period.
Quantity of waste water treated refers to the quantity of waste water being treated through various water treatment facilities in the reference period. This includes waste water collected through the region’s sewerage system but treated through facilities in another region.
Volume of industrial waste water discharged refers to the total volume of industrial waste water discharged, through all outlets, to the outside of the industrial plants. It includes waste water from the production process, direct-cooling water, mine water that fails to meet the discharging standard, and residential waste water from the plants that was discharged together with industrial waste water. Discharged indirect-cooling water is excluded from this category.
COD (chemical oxygen demand) is a synthetic indicator that represents the degree of organic pollution in water. It measures the amount of oxidizable pollutants found in surface water or waste water.
Ammonia nitrogen, consisting of unionized ammonia (NH3) and ammonium ion (NH4+), is a toxic pollutant used as a measure of the health of water bodies. Ammonia nitrogen in water can cause eutrophication, as well as poisoning humans and aquatic life.
Volume of residential waste water discharged refers to the volume of waste water produced by a community of urban residents within one year.
Solid Waste Indicators
Volume of household waste collected refers to the volume of household waste collected and transported to waste treatment plants or final disposal sites. Household waste refers to solid wastes produced in everyday life and in the activities providing service to everyday life, as well as to all other types of wastes defined in the laws and administrative regulations; these include domestic waste, commercial waste, waste from markets and fairs, waste from street cleaning, public facility waste, and institutional waste.
Volume of household waste treated refers to the volume of household waste treated at all operating plants and sites, in ways such as simple landfill, sanitary landfill, composting, incineration, and comprehensive treatment.
Volume of industrial solid waste produced refers to the total volume of solid, semi-solid, or high-concentration liquid residue produced by industrial plants in their production process, including hazardous wastes, smelting waste, slag, coal ash, gangue (but excluding the stripped and excavated soil wastes in mining), tailings, radioactive residues, and other residues.
Volume of industrial solid waste produced = (Volume of industrial solid waste repurposed - Waste repurposed from previous years' storage) + Volume of industrial solid waste stored + (Volume of industrial solid waste disposed - Waste disposed from previous years' storage) + Volume of industrial solid waste discharged without treatment
Volume of industrial solid waste repurposed refers to the volume of solid waste from which useful materials can be extracted or that can be transformed into utilizable resources, energy, or other materials. This volume includes the solid wastes stored in previous years but utilized in the current year. Wastes can be repurposed into fertilizers, construction materials, and road-building materials. Statistics are collected by the production units that originally produced the wastes.
Volume of industrial solid waste disposed refers to the volume of industrial solid waste disposed in a place that meets the environmental protection requirements and is not to be recovered. This volume includes the solid wastes stored in previous years but treated in the current year. Disposal methods include burying (hazardous wastes would be buried safely), burning, piling at designated sites, underground landfilling, mine backfilling, etc.
Volume of industrial solid waste stored refers to the volume of industrial solid waste temporarily stored or piled at designated facilities or sites, for the purpose of utilization or treatment in the future. These facilities or sites should have measures preventing the wastes from spreading or being washed away to other places, permeating the soil, or causing air pollution or water contamination.
In China, residential population (changzhu renkou), refers to people who live in a place for six months or longer, although the person may not have household registration in the same place. It includes mainly: 1) people who reside and have their household registration in the same particular township, town, or subdistrict at the time of surveying; 2) people who reside in a particular township, town, or subdistrict at the time of surveying, but have household registration elsewhere and have been away from that place for more than six months; 3) people who reside in a particular township, town, or subdistrict at the time of surveying, but have not registered their residence in any place; and 4) people who have their household registration in a particular township, town, or subdistrict, but live outside of mainland China at the time of surveying.
Gross domestic product (by region), also called the gross regional product in the China Statistical Yearbook, refers to the value of the final goods and services produced by all resident units in a region during a certain period of time.
Primary sector, or primary industry, in China includes the agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, and fishing industries, but excludes services supporting these industries.
Secondary sector, or secondary industry, in China includes mining (excluding the supporting services), manufacturing (excluding the supporting services), construction, and the production and supply of electricity, heat, gas, and water.
Tertiary sector, or tertiary industry, in China refers to all other economic activities not included in the primary or secondary sectors.
GDP contribution of the primary/secondary/tertiary sector (% of regional GDP) is derived from the raw data on the regional GDP and the GDP contribution of the primary/secondary/tertiary sector in absolute terms. It is calculated as:
GDP contribution of a sector as % of regional GDP = Absolute GDP contribution of the sector ÷ Regional GDP