Beijing cuts city smog by more than 17% in 2019

FILE PHOTO: Vehicles move amid smog on a polluted day in Beijing, China November 26, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese capital city Beijing cut smog levels in its metropolitan area by more than 17% in 2019 after five years of an anti-pollution campaign, data from its environmental authority showed on Friday.

Average concentrations last year of small, hazardous breathable particles known as PM2.5 were at 42 micrograms per cubic meter, the Beijing Municipal Ecology and Environment Bureau said.

That was down 17.65% from an average 51 micrograms per cubic meter in 2018, but still above China’s official air quality standard of 35 micrograms per cubic meter - and more than four times higher than the World Health Organization’s annual PM2.5 concentration guideline of 10 micrograms per cubic meter.

“Pollution in autumn and winter are still relatively severe, with average PM2.5 concentrations 33.3% higher than other periods,” Beijing’s environmental bureau said.

Beijing has been on the frontlines of China’s war on pollution that was launched in 2014 and has worked to shut down and relocate polluting industries, improve fuel and emission standards, and reduce coal consumption both in the city and in surrounding regions.

Overall PM2.5 concentrations in the capital city dropped 53% in 2019 compared with 2013, according to the bureau.

Reporting by Min Zhang and Shivani Singh; Editing by Tom Hogue