Hazardous Air Pollution in Beijing Triggers Online Call for Clean Air Act

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As Beijing residents continue to endure choking air pollution that far exceeds safe levels, an online poll has found overwhelming support for new clean air legislation.

Ten hours after real estate mogul Pan Shiyi posted the poll on the popular social media platform Sina Weibo, 99 percent of respondents — more than 32,000 people — agreed that the government should enact a Clean Air Act, with many users offering specific measures to curb pollution, including car-free days during smoggy periods, stricter auto emissions standards, and public health protections.

The dangerous cloud of pollution that has hung over Beijing for about a month now covers roughly 1.3 million square kilometers, according to the government-run Xinhua news agency. In Beijing this week, visibility fell to 500 meters, and some city natives called it the “worst fog ever,” according to a report in China Daily. “Controlling air pollution requires the participation of every citizen,” wrote Pan, himself a member of the Beijing Municipal People’s Congress. “Most important is implementing laws.”

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

  • Stephanie

    This is unbelievable. The reduction of air pollution is one of the most important issues within the so-called Greenest City 2020 Action Plan introduced in my native Vancouver whose aim is to eliminate the negative impact that our actions have on the environment. I’m convinced if all of us contribute to that common goal by our own efforts the first positive signals will be seen even in the short term. However, I’m afraid these efforts can easily be thwarted in other countries when the significant changes are not supported and promoted by the government.