January 29, 2013

Beijing shuts down factories to combat smog

Severe smog and air pollution in Beijing
Photograph: HAP/Quirky China News / Rex Feat
Beijing was again shrouded in smog today, prompting a second wave of emergency measures from the city government designed to tackle the capital's crippling air pollution.
State news agency Xinhua confirmed that 103 polluting factories have been ordered to close until Thursday at the earliest.
The latest steps came as Beijing's pollution spiked for the second time in as many weeks, with the US embassy reporting that its air pollution index score had reached 517 - a level described as "beyond index". Residents reported that visibility was down to 100 metres in some areas and Air China confirmed that 14 flights had been cancelled at the city's airport.
Today's wave of factory shutdowns and travel restrictions follow similar moves last week, which also saw Mayor Wang Ashun vow to take 180,000 older cars off the roads and take measures to tackle "excessive" growth in car ownership. [Business Green]
Hospitals reported increases of up to 30% in the number of patients reporting breathing problems as officials warned that the conditions were likely to last until Wednesday – a day longer than previously predicted – when winds should help to disperse the pollution.
"How can we get out of this suffocating siege of pollution?" the People's Daily, the official Communist party newspaper, asked in a front-page editorial.
"Let us clearly view managing environmental pollution with a sense of urgency."
It said around half of more than 70 Chinese cities monitored for air quality showed severe pollution over the weekend. [Guardian]
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