BEIJING – China says it will spend $2.7 billion to fight air pollution in capital Beijing this year, according to reports in state media.
Part of the money will be used to close or upgrade more than 2,000 polluting factories, replace the use of coal with clean energy on the outskirts of the capital city and phase out 300,000 high-polluting older vehicles, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing Beijing’s acting mayor, Cai Qi.
Authorities are eager to bring about a visible improvement in China’s bad air, especially in the high-profile capital and its surrounding areas. Beijing has suffered some particularly bad bouts of hazardous air in recent weeks, causing it to order some factories to temporarily close and schoolchildren to stay at home.
China has made great efforts to reduce its dependence on coal and generate more power from cleaner sources of renewable energy. Directives made public this week from the National Energy Administration ordered the cancellation of around 100 planned coal-fired power plants across the country, the construction for some of which had already started.
Earlier this month, authorities had launched an environmental police squad tasked with rooting out illegal burning in Beijing.
The new law enforcement outfit will patrol the streets to keep a check on open-air barbecues, trash burning and dusty roads that violate regulations, according to acting mayor Cai Qi.
China declared a “war on pollution” in 2014, which is still on. While China has tried to squash smog offenders, enforcement remains a challenge. And there has always been a strong need of routine inspections to find pollutions flouting the law.
During the first week of new year, nearly 24 cities across China were issued “red alerts,” Xinhua said. Red alerts are the highest of the four-tiered pollution warning system used by mainland China.