The famously smoggy Chinese capital of Beijing is finally doing something to curb its appalling air pollution. By a vote of 659-23, the Beijing Municipal People’s Congress passed a new law that for the first time will target reductions infine particulate matter (PM2.5) that pose the greatest health risk to the city’s more than 20 million residents.
A look at Wednesday’s real-time air quality index finds Beijing’s PM2.5 level at a “very unhealthy” level of 270 micrograms per cubic meter. The PM2.5 level in Beijing surpassed 500 on January 15 for the first time this year. Beijing’s PM2.5 level averages around 227, which is far above the national standard of 34 and the World Health Organization’s safe level of 25. Amazingly, Delhi, India’s air pollution is even worse than Beijing’s with an average measurement of 473. By mid-January, Delhi had passed the 500 mark eight times.
The law, which goes into effect in March, is designed to reduce the city’s total pollutant emissions with tougher punishments for polluters, including daily fines for air pollution violations and possible criminal action for more serious violations.
As part of China’s effort to get tough on industrial polluters, the country’s environmental watchdog last year vetoed as many as 35 projects worth 118.4 billion yuan.