North China cities issue smog alerts as industry curbs end

FILE PHOTO: The City skyline is seen amid smog in Beijing, China February 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee

BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing and 33 other northern Chinese cities have issued smog alerts for the next few days as industrial output ramps up again after the end of winter restrictions, China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment said on Sunday.

The Chinese capital late on Saturday declared its third orange pollution alert of 2018 and the second this month. An orange alert is the second-highest warning behind red in China’s four-tier system.

The alert, which requires industrial factories to limit output by 30 percent to 50 percent, will be in operation for March 26-28.

Other cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei and surrounding region, including Zhengzhou and Shijiazhuang, have also put orange alerts in place until March 28 and will take prompt measures to reduce emissions, the ministry said on its official WeChat account.

The Chinese government ordered 28 northern cities to impose special restrictions on polluting industries, such as steel and aluminum, during the winter heating season that ran from mid-November to mid-March, but these have mostly been lifted.

Emissions from residential heating have dropped with the end of the heating season, but “industrial production and transportation of goods have increased significantly”, the ministry said.

Beijing achieved the biggest reduction in average pollution among the 28 cities from October to February, the ministry said last week.

The capital’s first orange alert this year ran from Jan. 13 to Jan. 15. The second was for March 12-14. It has issued no red alerts so far this year.

Reporting by Tom Daly and Lusha Zhang; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and David Goodman