A green financing platform has been launched in China, designed to promote air pollution reduction investments in the greater Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei (BTH) area.

The platform is set up with a US$499.6mn loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and will be run by the China National Investment and Guaranty Corporation (I&G).

I&G will bolster the platform with US$4bn in commercial debt financing from banks in China. The platform will allow SMEs easier access to commercial bank loans, matching projects to lenders, all facilitated by I&G.

It is designed to help clean up the air in the busy, industrial area of China. Nationwide, there are around 1 million premature deaths attributed to poor air quality, which is also estimated to detract about 7.5% from the national GDP.

The platform, according to I&G, will help save about 40.2 million tonnes of coal from being deployed. This will in turn cut carbon emissions by 8.55 million tonnes a year, and sulphur dioxide emissions by 510,000 tonnes in the BTH region, which contains some of China’s most polluted cities.

All of China’s top 10 most polluted cities are in the country’s north. Six of the cities with the worst air pollution are in Hebei province, according to the Chinese ministry of environmental protection.

While Beijing announced a coal consumption cap of 15 million tonnes by 2015, the capital city still suffers from extreme air pollution. Public facilities such as schools are often shut down when pollution creeps above critical levels.

The city’s PM 2.5 (small particles of polluted air smaller than 2.5 micrometres in diameter) are five times the national average. By not wearing any protection, Beijing’s citizens breathe in 12 times the WTO recommended amount of PM 2.5 every year.

The green financing platform should encourage small businesses to embrace cleaner production and manufacturing methods – but will likely provide a drop in the ocean of the money required.