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Beijing Acts to Reduce Fireworks as Air Worsens, China News Says

Beijing called on residents to cut back on fireworks for the traditional Lantern Festival today as air quality in the Chinese capital city worsens, state-run China News Service reported.

Today is the final day of the annual Lunar New Year celebrations and the last time Beijing residents are allowed to set off fireworks during the period. In 2009, Lantern Festival fireworks triggered a blaze in a building in the landmark new China Central Television compound in downtown Beijing

Pollution levels in Beijing rose to a record on Jan. 12, sparking criticism of the government’s handling of the environment. Li Keqiang, set to become China’s next premier, called for patience as authorities work to reduce emissions.

China, estimated by the World Bank to have 16 of the world’s 20 most-polluted cities, is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases. The burning of coal is the main source of pollution, accounting for 19 percent, while vehicle emissions contribute 6 percent, according to a study by Greenpeace and Peking University’s School of Public Health published Dec. 18.

China will impose emission limits on six polluting industries including coal-fired power plants and steel and petrochemical factories as soon as March 1 to improve air quality in major cities, the country’s environment ministry said on Feb. 20.

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