On Monday, Beijing issued its first-ever red alert for smog — the most serious warning in the four-tier system implemented about two years ago.
Readings of dangerous particles exceeded 300 micrograms per cubic meter on Monday, which is about a dozen times past the safe level designated by the World Health Organization.
Beijing officials urged schools to shut down and invoked strict restrictions on reducing pollutants, including ordering some factories to close and limiting traffic to keep half of Beijing’s vehicles off the roads.
According to The New York Times, these temporary restrictions could affect the majority of Beijing’s more than 20 million residents. City officials noted that extra subway trains and buses would be made available to handle the additional demand for public transportation.
This news comes roughly one week after city officials reported dangerously high levels of air pollution, which prompted a rare orange alert — the second highest of the four danger levels.
City residents were encouraged to wear protective air-filtering masks at all times while outdoors.
Most of Beijing’s air pollution is blamed on coal-fired power plants, factory work and vehicle emissions. Although China plans to upgrade its coal power plans over the next five years, the world’s largest carbon emitter says its emissions will peak by 2030 before it will decline.
This worrisome news comes as world leaders meet in Paris to discuss solutions to thwart the effects of climate change.
What do you think about Beijing’s worsening “airpocalypse?” Will these radical measures produce only a temporary solution? Comment below or tweet me @MNetAbbey.