Beijing bans cars to save clean sky
One million cars will be removed from the polluted and congested streets of Beijing this summer in a desperate attempt to disperse the choking smog that shrouds the city.
The announcement of a partial driving ban between August 7 and 20 came as officials conceded that China`s unstoppable industrial growth has driven its environment to breaking point and is putting the lives of its people in danger.
The World Bank said yesterday that at least 460,000 Chinese people die prematurely each year from breathing polluted air and drinking dirty water.
Corruption and vested interests, coupled with China`s focus on chasing economic growth, have thwarted attempts to clean up one of the filthiest environments in the world. More than 70 per cent of China`s waterways and 90 per cent of its underground water are contaminated by pollution, according to previous government reports.
Pan Yue, an outspoken vice-minister at the State Environmental Protection Administration, said: “Pursuit of short-term goals is leading to ever-in-creasing pollution. Traditional ways of development have caused the near-breakdown of China`s resources and environment, and people`s lives are in great danger.”
Few details of the traffic plan were made public yesterday, but an order to keep government cars in their garages during an Africa summit this year effectively ended widespread jams and brought blue skies to the capital.
As it prepares for the Olympic Games, to be held from August 8 next year, Beijing has set a goal for a certain number of blue sky days each year, but in June it recorded poor air quality on 15 days - the most polluted June since 2000. The city has already spent $15 billion on a massive pollution clean-up, moving steel mills, power plants and coal-fired furnaces to the suburbs or beyond.BeijingBeijing
The Government maintains that the efforts are having an impact, with the city last year enjoying 241 “blue-sky” days, compared to fewer than 100 ten years ago.
However, with as many as 1,200 new cars hitting the streets of Beijing every day, the city is expected to have more than 3.3 million cars by the Olympics, up from 2.97 million now.