Beijing to shut down polluting firms
Chinese authorities will shut down 2,500 small firms in Beijing as part of an environmental protection effort aimed at reducing smog in the country. Firms located in Fengtai, Fangshan, Tongzhou and Daxing districts in Beijing, are required to shut down by the end of 2016. The rest of Beijing has been given until the end of 2017 to shut other firms violating pollution norms.
As China's President Xi Jinping arrived in Paris for global climate talks, Beijing experienced the highest smog levels for the year 2015, highlighting the environmental challenges being faced by China. Critical pollution levels were reported in 17 other cities surrounding Beijing like Tianjin, Hebei and Shandong. The Chinese ministry said the winter weather conditions and increased energy consumption for heating had raised pollution levels.
Beijing's particulate pollution (PM 2.5) levels have crossed 600 micrograms per cubic meter, which is over 24 times the World Health Organization's permissible threshold.
China's rising pollution led to a public outcry with people taking to microblogging sites to reproach the government saying China "shouldn't just develop its economy, it should consider people's lives first." People asked the government to curb transport-related emissions in Beijing and surrounding areas. People posted pictures of Beijing's significant landmarks like China Central Television's headquarters wrapped in heavy smog.
A performance artist named Wang Renzheng began his crusade to collect the toxic smog blanketing Beijing. Mr Wang's 'dust plan' requires sucking up the polluted and dusty air with a 1,000-watt industrial vacuum cleaner bought through donated money. The accumulated dust is then mixed with red clay to produce a single brick. Renzheng said he hoped that the government will follow his lead.
Study by Berkeley Earth revealed that air pollution kills an average of 4,000 people a day in China, the principal cause being coal-burning.
The levels of smog made Beijing municipal government to issue its first orange alert. This would mean that all elementary and middle schools in Beijing will have to cease outdoor exercises till 10 December according to the city's Commission of Education. This would also mean construction sites will have to stop dust-raising activities and children and elderly would be advised to stay indoors.
Beijing announced its first-ever pollution "red alert" and the government warned that the city would be shrouded in heavy smog from 8-10 December. The government requested schools to close and construction work to halt on 'red-alert' days. China's administration has pledged to crack down on environmental depravity, including the air pollution that envelops most of its major cities.
A Canadian company has cashed in on the smog crisis in China by selling bottles of fresh mountain air in Beijing. The company started marketing the product in China less than two months ago and the first shipment of 500 bottles "sold out almost instantly", according to Harrison Wang, Vitality Air's China representative. A second shipment of 700 bottles is currently on the way.
China has issued a second red alert as officials say "the worst smog of the year" is heading for northern China. Authorities have stated that "heavy pollution" will engulf Beijing from Saturday till Tuesday. Beijing officials have stated that fireworks and outdoor cooking will be banned and that use of vehicles will be restricted. Schools and educational institutes have been advised to remain closed.
China renewed its smog alert in several cities and provinces including Beijing asking people to stay indoors and take precautions. According to China's National Meteorological Centre smog will be particularly heavy in parts of Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Henan, Shandong, Shaanxi and Liaoning from Sunday to Monday morning. This is the third smog alert since Beijing faced a red alert in December 2015.