Home / General / 'Smog police' to clampdown on Beijing pollution

'Smog police' to clampdown on Beijing pollution

A new squad of environmental police has been set up to battle the heavy smog polluting the Chinese capital, Beijing.

Acting mayor Cai Qi said it will target illegal burning, including open-air barbecues and rubbish fires, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency.

Mr Cai also wants to cut coal consumption by 30% this year, shutting down 500 higher-polluting factories and upgrading 2,500 others.

And from next month, around 300,000 high-pollution vehicles will be restricted from entering the city.

Smog rolling into Beijing. Pic: @china_chas
Smog rolls into Beijing – in just 20 minutes

People have been forced to stay indoors because of the continuing high levels of smog, and public pressure on the authorities to deal with the problem has increased.

Pollution levels in Beijing and other Chinese cities regularly exceed World Health Organisation guidelines and residents often live under a thick grey haze.

Last week the capital was put under an “orange alert,” the second-highest level in China’s four-stage air alert system. 

Pollution levels in the city often breach World Health Organisation danger levels
Image Caption:
Pollution levels in the city often breach World Health Organisation danger levels

More than 20 other cities were on the highest “red alert,” which can lead to the closure of schools and businesses, flight cancellations, and road closures.

But because factories are under pressure to meet production targets, China’s environmental ministry has found some restrictions imposed during the “red alerts” are ignored.

“Open-air barbecues, garbage incineration, biomass burning, dust from roads – these acts of non-compliance with regulations are actually the result of lax supervision and weak law enforcement,” said Mr Cai.

Pollution in China is mainly caused by thousands of coal-burning factories and too many older, inefficient vehicles. 

It is an ongoing problem for China’s Communist government as it tries to balance dealing with an economic slowdown and the challenge of maintaining growth with calls to stamp down on pollution.

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