Beijing has just issued its first ever ‘Red Alert’ of dangerous smog levels, which will see much of China’s capital city shutdown and half of its cars forced off the roads.
As part of the Red Alert, cars in Beijing can only be driven on alternating days with those with odd numbered license plates allowed to drive one day and even numbered license plates permitted to drive the following day. Beyond the effective halving of cars from Beijing residents allowed on the roads between yesterday and Thursday, the New York Times says 30 per cent of the vehicle fleets from government agencies will be taken off the roads.
In late November, a large expanse of toxic air covered north China with parts of Beijing on November 30, having air pollution levels 40 times the limit recommended by the World Health Organization.
Of course, the issuing of a ‘Red Alert’ is nothing more than a band-aid for Beijing’s pollution levels. They have become so bad that, when international summit meetings or important events are scheduled to take place in the city, leaders have to instruct local factories to shut down in order to clear the skies of pollution.
Photograph by Wang Zhao/AFP via Getty Images