Earlier today Beijing issued its highest smog alert of the year, upgrading the yellow warning which has been in place for the past few days to orange, second only to red.
Under the orange weather alert mechanism, industrial plants are required to reduce or shut down production; construction sites should stop the transportation of materials and waste while heavy-duty trucks are banned from the roads.
According to Xinhua, humidity and a lack of wind will cause the smog will linger for another two days before a cold front arrives on Wednesday.
Cities in the northeast of China frequently experience high levels of air pollution during winter due to the concentration of heavy industry and coal-fired power plants in the region.
11-29-2015 21:00; PM2.5; 377.0; 419; Hazardous (at 24-hour exposure at this level)
— BeijingAir (@BeijingAir) November 29, 2015
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Environmental Protection announced that in 2014 only eight of the country’s 74 largest cities had passed the government’s basic air quality standards.
The upgraded smog alert comes as China announces it has achieved the pollution reduction targets for major pollutants outlined in its 12th Five Year Plan six months ahead of schedule.
Environment Minister Chen Jining said earlier today that discharge of sulfur dioxide and Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), a measure of organic pollutants in water, had dropped by 12.9 and 10.1 percent from 2010 levels. Emissions of ammonia nitrogen and nitrogen oxide had also declined by 9.8 and 8.6 percent.
— George Chen (@george_chen) November 28, 2015