While everyone is in Paris working on climate talks, Beijing has issued their first ever “red alert” due to smog in the city. This heightened level of pollution has forced school closings, factory closings, and limited car usage. From the BBC:
The alert, the highest possible warning level, was issued late Monday and will last until midday on Thursday.
Limits have been placed on car use and some factories have been ordered to stop operations.
It comes as China, the world’s worst polluter, takes part in talks on carbon emissions in Paris.
It is the first time China has declared a red alert under the four-tier alert system, which was adopted a little over two years ago, although pollution levels were far from the city’s worst.
At 07:00 local time on Tuesday (23:00 GMT on Monday), when the alert came into effect, the US Embassy’s air pollution monitor in Beijing reported that the intensity of the tiny particles known as PM 2.5 was at 291 micrograms per cubic metre.
By 11:00 it had dropped very slightly to 250 – still a level it described as “very unhealthy”. Levels of the poisonous particles in the suburbs were reported at several times that number.
The World Health Organization recommends 25 micrograms per cubic metre as the maximum safe level.
Not only is this scary, but it’s a huge warning to those in Paris that something serious needs to be done in order to curb climate change.