To fight smog, Beijing plans 30 percent cut to coal use

Digital Originals

China PollutionChina’s state broadcaster China Central Television headquarters and construction buildings at the Central Business District are shrouded by heavy smog in Beijing, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Beijing will intensify the battle against air pollution, as the city mayor promised Sunday to take “extra” anti-smog measures in 2017.

Beijing mayor Cai Qi said in a media conference that the municipal government will continue to decrease coal use by helping residents in the main city and 700 villages use clean energy.

“We will try to basically realize zero coal use in six major districts and in Beijing’s southern plain areas this year,” Cai said, adding that the city will also eliminate coal-fired boilers.

“We will slash coal use by 30 percent to less than 7 million tons in 2017,” he said.

Cai Fujian

Cai Fujian speaks during an interview as he visits the Temple of Heaven with friends in Beijing. When the smog descends over northern China, turning blue skies gray and thickening the air, 65-year-old Cai can feel his lungs tightening. He begins to cough. (AP Photo/Nomaan Merchant)

Beijing had originally planned to reduce consumption below 10 million tons this year, a great deal improvement over 22 million tons in 2013. the city has already shut or relocated major coal-fired power stations. Where there has been an energy deficit to meet needs, Beijing has been importing power from neighboring provinces via the expanding electrical grid.

A 360 view of Beijing smog from The Associated Press

Meanwhile, Beijing will kick 300,000 old vehicles off the roads this year and promote new energy cars instead.

According to the Ministry of Environmental Protection, heavy traffic is responsible for over a third of Beijing’s emissions of harmful breathable particles known as PM2.5.

“It is an urgent task for Beijing and its neighboring areas to work together and improve air quality in the region,” Cai said.

China Pollution

In this Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017 photo, a couple wearing protection masks visits the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

China’s cities are required to reduce PM 2.5 to a yearly average of 35 micrograms to meet state standards. Average density of PM 2.5 in the Chinese capital was 73 micrograms per cubic meter in 2016, down 9.9 percent from the previous year, according to Lu Yan, head of the Beijing Municipal Reform and Development Commission.

Story compiled with material from Xinhua and The Associated Press.