Daily Management Review

Pollution Red Alert Sounded in Beijing, Vehicles, Factories & Educational Institutions to Remain Shut


Pollution Red Alert Sounded in Beijing, Vehicles, Factories & Educational Institutions to Remain Shut
Following an acrid smog that enveloped the Beijing for the second time this month, the Chinese authorities have issued its first pollution red alert for the Chinese capital.
The alert entails millions of vehicles being forced off the roads, factories and construction sites shut down and schools and nurseries advised to close starting from 7am on Tuesday.
“It is history – this is a precedent set,” said Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public an Environmental Affairs in Beijing.
“This is extremely important to stop children from being exposed to such a high level of pollution,” Jun added.
Last week Beijing's residents choked on smog levels that in some areas rose to 40 times those considered safe by the World Health Organisation. There was fierce criticism of the Chinese authorities as they had failed to issue a red alert in that situation.
The alerting system of the government was insufficient, complained Greenpeace. The global environmental organization claimed that Beijing’s latest “airpocalypse” had readings of the hazardous airborne particle PM2.5 of more than 900 micrograms per cubic meter in some parts of the city.
Some analysts are of the opinion that Monday’s emergency announcement was, in part, a reaction to those criticisms.
For a city with a population of 23 million, the decision to declare the red alert in Beijing would have been very tough for the Chinese authorities, said Ma Jun.
“It is going to involve some very challenging actions like stopping half of the cars. In a city with more than five million cars you can imagine that is going to be a big challenge,” he said.
 “But this will definitely help protect people’s health. With the red alert, primary schools, middle schools and kindergartens will be [advised] to stop having class. This will be very helpful in preventing extra exposure of the most vulnerable group of people to the air pollution hazards,” he added.
It not be before Thursday that the latest bout of pollution would linger over Beijing and it is expected that rains would do  this work when they arrive on Thursday.
“Coal-fired power plants are the major culprit at this point,” said Xinhua, China’s official news agency.
Despite tough pledges, for example by the Chinese premier Li Keqiang kast year who vowed to declare war on pollution, smog continues to blight cities right across the country. Scientists blame air pollution for about 4,000 deaths a day.
“It just shows that air pollution is still a very big challenge to the city of Beijing and that the government has paid greater attention to this issue,” Ma Jun said.
Even as the capital tries to slash its use of the fossil fuel, the crisis is even more severe in the regions surrounding Beijing, where hundreds of millions of tons of coal are still being burned each year even as the capital tries to slash its use of the fossil fuel.
Stating that action was also needed in the places surrounding Beijing to reduce the capital’s smog problem, Ma Jun said: “Beijing actually isn’t even in the top 10 polluting cities in the region [any more]. There are others which are significantly more polluting.”