Beijing to clamp down on polluting trucks, coal burning

Vehicles move amid heavy smog on a polluted day in Beijing, China.
Vehicles move amid heavy smog on a polluted day in Beijing, China.PHOTO: REUTERS

Mayor outlines steps to beautify Chinese capital, with more parks and green spaces

Beijing is ramping up efforts to make the city greener by taking diesel trucks off the roads, building more parks and clamping down harder on coal burning.

Mayor Chen Jining outlined these measures for a "beautiful Beijing" yesterday when he presented the city government's work report for this year at the annual Beijing Municipal People's Congress. He also set lower targets for energy and water consumption and carbon dioxide emissions for this year.

The environment was a key part of Mr Chen's 90-minute speech to more than 700 delegates at the Beijing Conference Centre.

Before he was appointed as the city's mayor in 2017, Mr Chen was China's environment minister.

He said the municipal government "resolved to win the battles against air, water and soil pollution" and build a "world-class metropolis that is harmonious and liveable".

Mr Chen's remarks came two days after the nation's weather bureau issued orange smog alerts - the second-highest level - across seven regions in the north-east, which included Beijing.

This year, management and control of diesel trucks will be something the municipal government would "prioritise", the mayor said, noting that the Beijing government had already taken 47,000 heavy-polluting diesel trucks off the road.

"We will encourage the phasing out of high-emission obsolete or worn-out diesel trucks and support the development of new energy trucks," he said.

 
 
 

Mr Chen also said Beijing would curb coal burning, assembling enforcement teams at the municipal and district levels to do so.

The city would also add 16,667ha of parks and green spaces.

It has made progress in tackling air pollution. Last year, the level of PM2.5 particulates - pollutants small enough to enter the bloodstream - dropped to 51 micrograms per cubic metre, down from 58 the year before, said Mr Chen.

Mr Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, a non-profit environment research organisation, said a more coordinated approach to tackling pollution in the Beijing-Hebei-Tianjin region is needed.

"The situation now is actually quite good, but once there are unfavourable weather conditions in the region, heavy smog from the region will quickly concentrate in Beijing," said Mr Ma.

Mr Chen also said that the city's gross domestic product rose by 6.6 per cent last year, although he forecast that this would dip to 6 to 6.5 per cent this year.

There is a need for the Chinese capital to support private enterprises, attract global talent and encourage innovation, he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2019, with the headline 'Beijing to clamp down on polluting trucks, coal burning'. Print Edition | Subscribe