Beijing shuts factories over smog
BEIJING ordered hundreds of factories to shut and allowed children to skip school as choking smog reached 36 times over safe levels yesterday in parts of the city, casting a cloud over China's participation in the Paris climate talks.
Concentrations of PM2.5 harmful microscopic particles that embed deeply in the lungs peaked at 900 micrograms per cubic metre in southern Beijing yesterday, the official Xinhua news agency reported, quoting the city's environment monitoring centre.
The World Health Organisation's recommended maximum is 25 micrograms per cubic metre.
Smartphone air quality apps showed an Air Quality Index reading of 500, the maximum, for almost all monitoring stations across the city, advising people to avoid going outdoors.
The authorities in Beijing ordered the closure of 2,100 highly polluting businesses, the China Daily said, while airlines cancelled over 30 flights from Beijing and Shanghai.
Beijing's monitoring centre found coal burning to be the major contributor to the high concentration of PM 2.5 after analysing the composition of the pollutants, according to its head Zhang Dawei.
But the city issued only an orange alert, the second highest on the four-colour scale.
A red alert would require schools to close and ban half the city's cars from its streets.
There were similar readings in nearby Tianjin city and in the provinces of Hebei, Shanxi and Shandong. Most of the country's greenhouse gas emissions come from coal burning, which spikes in winter along with demand for heating.
The round of air pollution that began last week is the heaviest this year.
The air quality in Beijing was expected to improve from 11pm last night, when cold gusts from the north drive and dissipate the smog south, reported Beijing Morning Daily.
In his opening address to the two-day Climate Change Summit in Paris on Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping called on world leaders to unite in their efforts to tackle climate change, reported Agence France-Presse.
He also emphasised the need to respect differences between countries' level of development and ability to make emission cuts.
The summit is part of the 12-day United Nations Climate Change Conference.
China is estimated to have emitted nearly twice as much carbon dioxide as the United States in 2013.
Air pollution kills an average of 4,000 people a day in China, according to a study this year by Berkeley Earth, an independent research group, reported Bloomberg.