Air pollution in Beijing hit alarmingly high levels

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  • The air pollution in Beijing has reached over 15 times above the safe level
  • China’s capital has issued the second-highest alert for air pollution or smog in the city
  • Ironically, this happened after the Chinese government declared that they have met their pollution-reduction targets for 2015

The air pollution in China’s capital, Beijing, has reached alarmingly high levels. It is now over 15 times the safe level. Smog has engulfed huge parts of the country. The level has been described as “hazardous.”

The city has now been compelled to upgrade to the second-highest alert of air pollution or smog for the first time in the last 13 months. Ironically, the alert was issued on the day that the Chinese government declared they have already met the pollution-reduction targets for this year.

The Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center reported that Beijing’s municipal government of Beijing lifted the air-pollution alert to orange at 10 am on Sunday. The concentration was at PM2.5. This refers to the particulates that pose the greatest risk to human health. As of Saturday evening, it was 300 micrograms per cubic meter – this is approximately 12 times higher than the recommended limits of the United Nation’s World Health Organization.

The very next day, Sunday, the quality of air worsened. The center upgraded the alert without providing an update on the pollution reading.

Xinhua, the country’s news agency, said the government claimed it has achieved its targets for reducing major pollutants that were outlined in the 5-year plan that would end in 2015. The government even declared it is ahead of schedule. Despite this, the environment minister, Chen Jining, told Xinhua that the country still needs to cut 30 to 50 percent of its major pollutants.

Based on the assessment of the environment bureau, the current situation of the “severe pollution” problem would not go away for another two days. The city would require some of the factories to suspend or limit their production while the orange alert for pollution is active.

Chinese President Xi Jinping traveled to Paris to join the talks sponsored by the United Nations with over 140 world leaders present including United States President Barack Obama. The discussions are aimed at reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. The two-weeks worth of talks have succeeded in gathering pledges to reduce emissions from 177 out of the 195 countries involved.

In the past, Chinese authorities have shut down factories as well as taken off half of the vehicles off the road to curb pollution. However, some speculate that such drastic measures only proved to be disruptive and were only done when Beijing feels the need to give off a good image to the world.