In the aftermath of this year’s first airpocalypse, Beijing has announced plans to reduce the average density of PM2.5 in the city’s air to a mere 60 micrograms per cubic meter in 2017. That’s 15% less than in 2016, and only a little more than double the acceptable standard of safe breathing recommended by the World Health Organization.
In order to reach this lofty goal, Beijing’s acting mayor Cai Qi has announced plans to introduce clean energy in 700 villages and ensure that there will be absolutely no coal burning in downtown Beijing. Additionally, 300,000 outdated, high-polluting vehicles will be removed from the city’s roads by the end of the year.
This plan certainly seems like a more effective way of addressing the city’s air quality problems than last year when the municipal government issued a directive to raise the air quality standards for issuing red alerts. However, also last year, Beijing promised to lower its PM2.5 level to the national standard of 35… by the year 2030.
While the city recently announced the creation of its first-ever squadron of environmental police, Captain Planet himself would have a hard time fighting back against Beijing’s polluters. It seems that the only way to achieve real, immediate change on a scale that residents are gasping for would be to permanently institute the kind of drastic temporary measures that go into effect whenever an important event rolls into town, creating everlasting “APEC blue” skies.
Of course, that could only possibly happen when the government begins to value the negative effects of smog more than economic growth.
Yeah, we would advise Beijingers to continue holding their breath.
By Matt Bonini
[Images via ChinaNews]
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