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Beijing to Scrap Old Cars and Swap Coal-Burners in Clean Air Bid

Beijing to Scrap Old Cars and Swap Coal-Burners in Clean Air Bid
Vehicles travel at a crossing in smog in Beijing, China, 18 January 2013. Photograph: Imaginechina via AP Images

Beijing’s acting mayor said the city will take 180,000 old vehicles off the road and replace coal-burning heaters in 44,000 homes in a bid to cut air pollutants by 2 percent this year.

The capital will also promote clean-energy vehicles among government departments, the public, street cleaners and trash collectors, the Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday, citing top city official Wang Anshun. He spoke at the opening of the municipality’s legislative session.

The city had ordered government vehicles off the roads as part of an emergency response to record pollution that hit the city earlier this month. At 4 a.m. today, a sensor at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing showed that levels of PM2.5, the fine airborne particulates that pose the greatest health risks, had risen to 441. The World Health Organization recommends 24-hour exposure to PM2.5 levels no higher than 25.

The official Beijing government reading along a road near Tiananmen Square was 258 at 4 a.m., which it rates as “heavily polluted,” according to a city government Website.

Beijing also plans to reduce coal consumption by 1.4 million tonnes and emissions of volatile organic compounds by 8,000 tonnes, as well as closing some 450 heavily polluting plants, the Xinhua report added, citing municipal authorities it didn’t identify.

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