Skyscrapers in Beijing disappeared in haze and air quality plunged as China’s capital was hit by a dust storm and heavy pollution on Friday.
Concentrations of tiny PM2.5 particles that can reach deep into the lungs and bloodstream have entered a hazardous category on air quality monitoring sites, the IQAir website shows an air quality index of 1,093, a “hazardous” level, Which is several times higher than the standard. considered “unhealthy” levels.
Beijing was previously notorious for its terrible air quality, but conditions were greatly improved in recent years as authorities removed heavily polluting vehicles from the streets and moved coal-fired power plants and heavy industry to surrounding provinces. transferred.
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The capital was also known for regular springtime dust and sandstorms caused by winds blowing from the Loos Hills to the west along the upper course of the Yellow River. Anti-desertification efforts have helped reduce both the frequency and intensity of storms that often turned the surrounding air a cataclysmic yellow-red hue.
Air quality also improved markedly after 2000, when most of China’s industry was closed under lockdown and quarantine mandated by China’s strict “zero-covid” policy.
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Faced with a slowing economy, China is promoting coal-fired power, thwarting efforts to cut climate-changing carbon emissions from the biggest global source.
China is one of the biggest investors in wind and solar, but jittery leaders have called for more coal-fired power in 2021 after economic growth slumps and shortages lead to blackouts and factory shutdowns. Russia’s attack on Ukraine raised concerns that foreign oil and coal supplies could be disrupted.
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China is the top producer and consumer of coal and the largest source of air pollution and climate change gases.
The ruling Communist Party has rejected binding emissions commitments, citing the needs of its economic development, and Beijing is refraining from joining governments that have pledged to phase out the use of coal-fired electricity.
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