This morning, China’s capital issued its first-ever pollution “red alert.” Beijing’s Municipal Bureau of Environmental Protection declared that the city’s hazardous smog has reached the highest possible warning level.
According to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, the air quality index is classed as “very unhealthy” and ten times higher than the pollution levels deemed passable by the World Health Organization.
In response, the city has largely shut down, and put some extraordinary measures in place:
Some Beijing residents have questioned the unprecedented red alert, claiming that it should, in fact, have been issued last week when air quality was much more severe, as measured by the U.S. Embassy. No matter the week, China’s pollution is clearly out of control. With most of the country burning coal to heat homes and fuel power plants, carbon emissions have skyrocketed.
At international talks on climate change, including the ones currently underway in Paris, Chinese officials have promised to address both air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions. The results of these talks remains to be seen.