Beijing steps up air quality control ahead of Olympics vote
Beijing, May 7 (IANS) China has scaled up air quality control in Beijing to bring down the city's pollution level significantly in a bid to win hosting rights for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
Beijing announced on Wednesday it will ban restaurants from operating outdoor barbecues, which authorities say are a major contributor to smog, in selected suburban areas, reports Xinhua.
China is going all out to bring "Olympic Blue" to Beijing.
'Olympic Blue', derived from the coined phrase 'APEC Blue', refers to fresh air and clear days that may come with the Olympics.
During last November's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting, hosts Beijing imposed strict pollution controls which led to a big drop in pollutants in the air. Thus, Beijing netizens coined a phrase 'APEC Blue' to describe the clear blue sky.
Air pollution, which has haunted the city for a long time, is believed to be one of the major issues hurting Beijing's chance to win hosting rights for the 2022 Games.
The first quarter of the year has witnessed Beijing's pollution density drop significantly, thanks to the capital's continuous air pollution control efforts and favourable weather conditions during the period.
Chen Tian, head of Beijing's environmental protection bureau, attributed the remarkable air quality improvement to the reduction in coal burning, a drop in construction activities and good air conditions to disperse pollutants.
In March, two sets of coal burning power generation facilities of two plants were shut down in Beijing.
The city will continue to improve its energy structure to keep coal consumption under 15 million tonnes, phase out another 200,000 vehicles and close more than 300 polluting factories this year.
Beijing has 5.5 million registered vehicles, which discharge 700,000 tonnes of pollutants a year.
"We will accelerate promotion of new energy cars to control emissions of vehicles," said Li Kunsheng, an official of the bureau.
Policies about fines for fuel burning and dust at construction sites will be adopted, according to Zhang Gong, vice mayor of Beijing.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will vote on Beijing's bid against Almaty, Kazakhstan, on July 31 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
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