Beijing plans ventilation corridors to curb smog, pollution

World Today

Beijing skyline with CCTV building

Beijing is stepping up measures to fight against smog and pollution by building a web of ventilation corridors as one of its plans to combat climate issues, according to municipal authorities.

“Ventilation corridors can improve wind flow through a city so that wind can blow away heat and pollutants, relieving urban heat island effect and air pollution,” Wang Fei, deputy head of Beijing’s urban planning committee, told Xinhua News Agency.

The ventilation corridors could facilitate air flow and blow away potential smog and pollutants. The primary and secondary corridors range from more than 500 meters (1,640 feet) to 80 meters (262 feet) in width respectively. Smaller corridors will also be added to the system.

Construction zones, which will connect the city’s parks, rivers, lakes, highways and low building blocks, will be strictly controlled and obstacles of air flow will be gradually removed when building the corridors, according to Wang.

The five major corridors will run largely from the capital’s northern suburban areas to the south. One corridor will run through the central axis of Beijing from Taiping Suburban Park in the northern Changping District via the Olympic Park, the Temple of Heaven and all the way to the Beijing-Shanghai Highway in the southern end of the city.

Beijing’s idea to combat climate issues is not entirely a new concept though. Other Chinese cities like Shanghai, Fuzhou, Nanjing and Wuhan have already started building ventilation corridors to combat air pollution. Planners of the corridors in Wuhan believe that the corridors help cities to lower the temperature by 1 to 2 degrees Celsius.

However, Peng Yingdeng, environmentalist and researcher at the National Urban Environmental Pollution Control Engineering Research Center, thinks the effects of the corridors are limited and the results won’t be instantly seen.

Air pollution has become a major concern for Beijing residents as the city faced one of its worst smog spells in November and December 2015, prompting authorities to issue its first red alert warning.

Locals often check air quality and wear masks before going out during such periods and many own air purifiers to breathe healthily.

In recent years, Beijing has taken stringent measures to control air pollution. In 2015, the city replaced coal-fired power plants with cleaner energy and closed or limited the production of more than 2,000 polluting factories.

And the efforts have proved partially beneficial. Last year, air quality in and around Beijing improved marginally, according to data from the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP).

The annual average density of PM 2.5 in Beijing, particulate matter that causes hazardous smog, stood at 80.6 micrograms per cubic meter, a year-on-year decrease of 6.2 percent, the ministry said.

In an effort to curb pollution, China has cut 600 million tons of cement, 77 million tons of steel and 29 million tons of paper production capacity from 2011 to 2014.

During the Paris Climate Conference last year, China also pledged to cut its carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 60 to 65 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, raise the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to about 20 percent and peak its carbon emissions by the same year.