Jan 18 - Experts say dangerously high levels of pollution in China's capital Beijing is a regional problem, years in the making and needs to be tackled by central and local governments. Lily Grimes reports.
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Beijing's toxic air pollution has broken records recently but experts say it's part of a wider problem affecting much of China.
The vice director of Beijing's Environmental Monitoring Centre said much of the recent pollution in the capital had drifted over from neighbouring areas.
Production and consumption of coal in China have tripled since 2000.
Yang Fuqiang, a senior adviser at the Natural Resources Defence Council, says China needs to reduce its dependence on heavy industry and fossil fuels.
(SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) SENIOR ADVISER ON CLIMATE AND ENERGY AT THE NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENCE COUNCIL YANG FUQIANG SAYING:
"The pollution we saw this time was widespread. Throughout the country there are 74 cities which started monitoring levels of PM2.5 levels, and of these there were 33 cities which found severe pollution, that is to say the highest classification of serious pollution. This shows us that, of all emissions, the burning of coal is the main reason for the heavy pollution across the country."
The government plans to cap coal consumption at around 3.9 billion tonnes by 2015, but critics say they need to force the chinese to start cutting it.
Most local governments, including Beijing, still identify industrial growth as their main priority.
But the recent public outcry means the government may have to change attitudes if it wants to avoid a repeat of the crisis.