Saturday, December 19, 2015

Beijing issues second ever pollution red alert as China braces for a new wave of smog, triggering school closures and a ban on cars and even BARBECUES

Beijing issues second ever pollution red alert as China braces for a new wave of smog, triggering school closures and a ban on cars and even BARBECUES 

  • Air pollution due to begin rolling in from Saturday evening and last until Tuesday, blanketing swathes of the country
  • Visibility in worst areas such as Beijing likely to fall to less than 1km, prompting warnings to avoid outdoor activities
  • Half the cars in capital will be forced off the road on any given day while barbecues are banned and schools closed
  • Beijing issued first 'red alert' last week after criticism that previous bouts of smog failed to trigger highest warning

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Beijing issued only its second-ever red alert pollution warning today as China braced for a new wave of choking smog over the weekend, triggering car bans and school closures.
The National Meteorological Centre said the smog would stretch from Xian, home to the world-famous Terracotta Warriors, across part of central China, and up into Shenyang and Harbin in China's northeast.
The air pollution would begin rolling in from about Saturday evening and last until Tuesday, with visibility in the worst affected areas such as Beijing likely to fall to less than 1km, it said.
Half the cars in the city of 22.5 million will be forced off the road on any given day, while barbecues and other outdoor smoke sources will be banned. 
Suffocating: A  view of smog in Beijing from the famous Jingshan Hill yesterday. The city issued its second-ever red alert pollution warning today as China braced for a new wave of choking smog over the weekend, triggering car bans and school closures across the capital
Suffocating: A view of smog in Beijing from the famous Jingshan Hill yesterday. The city issued its second-ever red alert pollution warning today as China braced for a new wave of choking smog over the weekend, triggering car bans and school closures across the capital
Blanketed: The air pollution (seen here yesterday) was due to begin rolling in from about Saturday evening and last until Tuesday, with visibility in the worst affected areas such as Beijing likely to fall to less than 1km, according to the National Meteorological Centre
Blanketed: The air pollution (seen here yesterday) was due to begin rolling in from about Saturday evening and last until Tuesday, with visibility in the worst affected areas such as Beijing likely to fall to less than 1km, according to the National Meteorological Centre
Schools will close and people advised to avoid outdoor activities.
The Beijing city government issued its first 'red alert' last week following criticism that previous bouts of smog had failed to trigger the highest warning level. 

Residents are encouraged to remain indoors at levels higher than 300, according to government guidelines. 
Beijing's second red alert comes after a landmark climate agreement was reached in Paris earlier this month, setting a course to move away from a fossil fuel-driven economy within decades in a bid to arrest global warming.

A red alert is triggered when the government believes air quality will surpass a level of 200 on an air quality index that measures various pollutants for at least three days. 
The U.S. government deems a level of more than 200 'very unhealthy'. 

A  view of smog yesterday in Beijing from famous Jingshan Hill. Half the cars in the city will be forced off the road on any given day, while barbecues and other outdoor smoke sources will be banned
A view of smog yesterday in Beijing from famous Jingshan Hill. Half the cars in the city will be forced off the road on any given day, while barbecues and other outdoor smoke sources will be banned

Beijing  issued its first 'red alert' last week following criticism that previous bouts of smog had failed to trigger the highest warning level
Beijing issued its first 'red alert' last week following criticism that previous bouts of smog had failed to trigger the highest warning level

A man wears a protective mask makes her way as China warned residents across a large part of the north of the country to prepare for a wave of choking smog arriving over the weekend in Beijing

A girl wears a protective mask makes her way as China warned residents across a large part of the north of the country to prepare for a wave of choking smog arriving over the weekend in Beijing
In Beijing, a red alert means around half the vehicles are removed from the roads with an odd-even licence plate system enforced. 
Schools are recommended to close and outdoor construction is banned.
'I'm very concerned about the pollution, I think the government needs to put more effort into solving this,' said Cheng Xianke, a 34-year-old Beijing software developer.
The Beijing environment bureau said the red alert would last from 7am Saturday to midnight on Tuesday. The official Xinhua news agency said the smog would be worse than last week.
'Parts of north China will see the worst smog so far this year from Saturday,' it said, citing the National Meteorological Centre. 

What to expect: Views of the the Beijing skyline from December 10 show (from top to bottom) how the severe smog lifted from the morning into haze at midday and clear in the evening. A similar blanket of pollution is expected to return this weekend

What to expect: Views of the the Beijing skyline from December 10 show (from top to bottom) how the severe smog lifted from the morning into haze at midday and clear in the evening. A similar blanket of pollution is expected to return this weekend
Beijing is not the only city to have a coloured alert system and the restrictions rolled out in the most severe cases are broadly similar. 
Beijing's neighbouring city of Tianjin also aims to remove about half of all cars from the road in the event of a red alert.
Hebei's environment protection bureau said it was issuing an orange alert, the second-highest, starting from Friday. 
Schools will not close and there will be no vehicle restrictions but it recommends no outdoor activities and that people use public transport.

Photographs taken on December 10 (top) and two days earlier shows men looking at the view on smoggy and clear days over Beijing

Photographs taken on December 10 (top) and two days earlier shows men looking at the view on smoggy and clear days over Beijing
Shenyang said it was issuing a yellow alert, the third-highest level.
After decades of unbridled economic growth, China's leadership has vowed to crack down on severe levels of air, water and soil pollution, including the heavy smog that often blankets major cities.
City residents have previously criticised authorities for being too slow to issue red alerts for heavy smog.
Shanghai schools banned outdoor activities and authorities limited work at construction sites and factories earlier this week.
Environmental Protection Minister Chen Jining vowed this month to punish agencies and officials for any failure to implement a pollution emergency response plan quickly.