Beijing issues second pollution ‘red alert’

Chinese authorities in Beijing warn residents with second 'red alert' over incoming heavy smog

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Residents on their bicycles and electric bikes wait for the traffic at an intersection amid heavy smog in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, China, December 10, 2015.

Beijing announced its second “red alert” on Friday as pollution has increased, a little more than a week after the first such warning.

Beijing’s Meteorological Service announced that the smog density will remain from Saturday to Tuesday and will cover a wide area from Xian to Harbin, with the visibility in some places to fall less than one kilometre.

The “red alert” is issued to protect people in the area over the increased smog will affect life with warnings to stay indoors, school cancellations, limiting the use of vehicles and factories along with halting construction.

The government is promising to end the hazardous air pollution affecting the country.

Meteorological authorities say the smog in Beijing will worsen from the initial “red alert,” issued earlier in the month, as the PM2.5 pollution levels will exceed to approximately 500 micrograms per cubic metre and in some suburban areas they estimate it will be as high as 976 micrograms.

PM2.5 particles are air pollutants with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres or less and these particles come from activities that burn fossil fuels, such as traffic, smelting and metal processing.

A woman wearing a face mask stands on a bridge in front of the financial district of Pudong amid heavy smog in Shanghai, China on December 15, 2015 / Photo by Reuters

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says 25 micrograms per cubic metres is the upper limit for safe level.

Residents in Beijing stay at home when pollution rises in the city. The latest smog incident peaked just below 300 micrograms.

Chinese authorities have released a map showing heavy smog within a 2,000 km range affecting 12 major cities, including Beijing and Shijiazhuang.

The current situation, four-level alert system, came into effect about two years ago but the “red alert” was not issued till December, aiming to suppress criticism.

Coal-powered industries and heating systems are the biggest contributor to air pollution, however the city’s geographic location and weather conditions also make a difference in the amount of pollution contaminating the air.

Main industrial areas have settled in Beijing’s borders, the north and west mountains also trap pollution over the city.

Despite big investments in renewable energy sources, over 60 percent of China’s power relies on coal.  

China, along with four other permanent members of the United Nations signed a climate change agreement in Paris on Saturday, aiming to agree to move away from the use of fossil fuel in the long term. 

TRTWorld and agencies