China smog makes capital 'barely suitable' for life: report

SHANGHAI Wed Feb 12, 2014 9:30pm EST

Pedestrians cross the road near the Beijing West Railway Station (background) on a hazy day in Beijing, January 17, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Pedestrians cross the road near the Beijing West Railway Station (background) on a hazy day in Beijing, January 17, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Lee

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SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Severe pollution in Beijing has made the Chinese capital "barely suitable" for living, according to an official Chinese report, as the world's second-largest economy tries to reduce often hazardous levels of smog caused by decades of rapid growth.

Pollution is a rising concern for China's stability-obsessed leaders, keen to douse potential unrest as affluent city dwellers turn against a growth-at-all-costs economic model that has tainted much of the country's air, water and soil.

The report, by the Beijing-based Social Science Academic Press and the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, ranked the Chinese capital second worst out of 40 global cities for its environmental conditions, official media reported on Thursday.

China's smog has brought some Chinese cities to a near standstill, caused flight delays and forced schools to shut.

Beijing was hit by severe levels of pollution at least once every week, according to the 2012 Blue Paper for World Cities report. That was on top of a significant level of air pollution covering the capital for 189 days in 2013, according to city's Environmental Protection Bureau.

Though China's record on pollution is patchy, the government said on Wednesday it would set up a 10 billion yuan ($1.65 billion) fund to fight air pollution, offering rewards for companies that clean up operations.

Overall the government has pledged to spend over 3 trillion yuan ($494.85 billion) to tackle the problem, creating a growing market for companies that can help boost energy efficiency and lower emissions.

Beijing will also shut 300 polluting factories this year and publish a list of industrial projects to be halted or suspended by the end of April, state news agency Xinhua said. ($1 = 6.0624 Chinese yuan)

(This version of the story corrects first paragraph to show China world's second-largest economy.)

(Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Michael Perry)

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Comments (5)
TahoeCharles wrote:
I wonder what the second worst city is for pollution.

Feb 14, 2014 10:05am EST  --  Report as abuse
riposte wrote:
if they can limit their people to one child, do you think they care one iota about pollution taking out a few million here, or there????.

Feb 15, 2014 8:59am EST  --  Report as abuse
goatonastick wrote:
“Though China’s record on pollution is patchy, the government said on Wednesday it would set up a 10 billion yuan ($1.65 billion) fund to fight air pollution, offering rewards for companies that clean up operations.”

Great idea! Instead of companies wasting money to prevent pollution, they can pollute to their heart’s content, and when it becomes too bad, the government will PAY THEM to reduce pollution! Brilliant!

Feb 16, 2014 2:52am EST  --  Report as abuse
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