China pollution

Beijing acting mayor pledges to reduce the air pollution - by 2pc

Acting mayor says the city will have blue sky, but one environmental expert says it will be hard for the capital to clean up its act

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 September, 2017, 3:59pm

Beijing plans to reduce concentrations of major air pollutants by 2 per cent this year, the capital's acting major said yesterday following two weekends of record-setting smog.

Wang Anshun said at the opening of the annual session of the city's people's congress that the government would "considerably cut PM2.5 in the air" and "build a city with blue sky, green land and clean water".

He said Beijing would remove 180,000 old vehicles from the city's roads this year, promote the use of clean energy cars by government agencies, promote clean energy in rural areas and control dust at construction sites.

The capital's air pollution reached hazardous levels over the past two weekends, with the levels of harmful respirable particulates, known as PM2.5, peaking at nearly 900 micrograms per cubic metre. The World Health Organisation recommends that PM2.5 levels be kept below 25 micrograms per cubic metre.

Ma Jun , director of the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, said it would be hard for the capital to clean up its air. "The 2 per cent will not give Beijing a blue sky. But it certainly shows the authorities' determination to adopt a more transparent approach to solving the pollution problem."

Ma said given that Beijing was still growing - with about 250,000 new cars hitting the capital's roads every year - it would be a positive sign if pollution was no higher by the end of the year.

Pan Shiyi, a municipal people's congress delegate and real estate tycoon who spearheaded a social media campaign calling on the authorities to release PM2.5 monitoring data, said the government needed more initiatives to tackle air pollution.

"There are so many successful ideas that the Beijing government could adopt from foreign countries, such as pouring more funding into bike-sharing programmes," Pan said.

Wang said the government would ease traffic congestion by maintaining restrictions on car purchases and improving public transport. "We will upgrade the public transport network and add a total of 50 kilometres of express bus lanes," Wang said, adding that the city was expected to start construction of three new subway lines this year.

Wang is expected to be officially appointed Beijing's mayor during the six-day people's congress meeting.

While his report offered few details on the capital's near-term housing policy, it said it would speed up the building of new satellite towns in the suburbs.

Wang said they were targeting gross domestic product growth of around 8 per cent this year.