• Is there Light at the End of the Smog for China?

Is there Light at the End of the Smog for China?

Jan 27 2018 Read 1715 Times

Extreme levels of pollution in China are nothing new. Ever since the country declared smog levels to be a natural disaster in 2013, there’s been an ongoing crisis. However, new reports claim that there may be an end in sight. With particulate matter having reportedly  dropped in 2017, China may be on track to combat emissions in some of the most largest cities.

Why does China have such bad smog?

As China are the world’s biggest burners of coal, burning over half the amount consumed in the world, there is no surprise that the country suffers from high levels of air pollution. In the winter of 2013, Beijing issued a ‘red alert’ warning due to the thick layer of smog smothering the city. Excessive amounts of traffic and coal burned results in tiny particles, known as particulate matter (PM), polluting the air. This is what we know as smog.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) state that safe levels of PM fall under 25 particles per cubic meter. Beijing however, were showing levels that reached up to 500 PM per cubic meter. Which sparks no surprise given that a massive 1.6 million lives taken from smog related illnesses each year. However, after the 2013 disaster the Chinese government began to take air pollution seriously. China is now working towards a brighter, less smoggy future, and improvements are starting to be noticed.

Things can only get better…

Figures from 2017 demonstrated that PM levels found in Beijing had dropped by a third. The government set limits on the amount of coal being used and is now slowly transitioning into lower emission coal burning technologies. This technology goes hand in hand with work exploring sustainability in mining and extracting natural resources.

High-polluting vehicles were also taken off the roads, with vehicle emissions previously contributing 70% of the country’s smog levels. On top of this, measures were put in place to restrict the amount of traffic during the winter periods where high levels of pollution are expected.

Is there a blue-skied future for China?

Although the efforts in clearing the masses of air pollution are starting to show results, this is not a process that is going to happen overnight. While the main cities’ air quality has started to improve, it is still almost six times above the WHO’s recommended levels. And with China being one of the world’s largest consumers of coal, it’s going to be a long time before china is smog-free.

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