Beijing Mayor Plans to Slash Pollution

  • City’s economic growth target set ‘around’ 6.5% this year
  • More than 60 China cities forced to issue health alerts

Beijing’s city government set a new target to cut toxic smog in an address setting the city’s 2017 priorities. 

Beijing Acting Mayor Cai Qi pledged to control PM2.5 particles -- which pose major health risks because they become lodged in the lungs -- within an annual average of “around” 60 micrograms per cubic meter in 2017. The target would see pollution reduced from an average of 73 micrograms in 2016, but still more than double the World Health Organization’s recommended level.

Delivering his first annual report to the Beijing Municipal People’s Congress, the city’s legislature, Cai Qi said that “dealing with pollution, traffic congestion and waste treatment are arduous tasks” while also citing “pressure” to deliver steady growth for the city’s economy. 

The capital city plans to spend 18.2 billion yuan ($2.5 billion) to tackle air pollution this year, according to the official Xinhua News Agency on Saturday.

The pollution target forms part of the city’s ongoing efforts to tackle pollution. Heavy smog has prompted more than 60 cities across China, including Beijing, to issue health alerts this year and forced the delay and cancellation of hundreds of flights. 

Cai Qi announced a series of targets for 2017 which aim to support the goal, including eliminating 300,000 obsolete or worn-out automobiles, cleaning up 2,570 “scattered, disorderly and polluting enterprises,” and replacing coal with clean energy for heating in 700 villages. At the same time, the mayor committed to an annual growth target for the city of “around” 6.5 percent. 

Cai Qi was appointed Beijing’s acting mayor last October. 

China is aiming to raise the share of less-polluting natural gas to 10 percent of its energy mix by 2020 from 6 percent last year, the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top economic planner, said last month.

— With assistance by Peter Martin

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