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  • At its worst, Beijing's air quality looked like this.

  • In 2013, the air quality was deemed unhealthy or hazardous for over half the year.

  • Peaking in Beijing at 35 times the World Health Organisation's recommended limit.

  • It was so bad that Premier Li Keqiang declared a "war on pollution" at China's annual high profile National People's Congress.

  • Five years later, in March 2019, as Premier Li again opened the NPC meetings, the smog outside was still ten times worse than what the WHO defines as healthy.

  • Even as China cracks down on pollution like never before, the country remains one of the world's worst polluters.

  • This is your Bloomberg QuickTake on China's smog.

  • China overtook the U.S. as the world's biggest source of greenhouse gases in 2006, helping put the globe on a path to miss United Nations' targets aimed at stemming the rise in the earth's temperature.

  • This cheap power from coal and cheap factory production that's powered by coal has helped China turn into this economic giant.

  • That has helped produce cheap goods for the rest of the world and helped drive the world's economy.

  • And so in a sense, Chinese people are paying a tax in breathing this bad air for the benefit of consumers all over the world.

  • The WHO estimates more than 1 million Chinese died from dirty air in 2016.

  • Another study puts the tally even higher at 4,000 deaths a day.

  • Pollution is said to have been the main cause of social unrest in recent years.

  • With social media helping to amplify complaints.

  • On Weibo, China's Twitter-like online platform, people blamed factories for polluting the air and the government for not doing enough.

  • In February 2015, a Chinese investigative journalist published a self-funded documentary about the country's air pollution problem.

  • More than 100 million people watched "Under the Dome" before it was banned from Chinese video websites six days after its release.

  • Shortly after, President Xi Jinping pledged to unleash an iron hand to punish environmental polluters.

  • In the last few years, the government has spent billions of yuan tightening environmental regulations.

  • Scrapping coal-fired power plants and switching millions of homes and businesses from coal to natural gas.

  • The regulations and policies have worked.

  • The US State Department monitors particulate matter in the air in its Beijing embassy.

  • And these recordings showed that 2018 was the lowest level in a decade.

  • And the winter of 2017 and 2018 was one of the best as far as air quality goes.

  • It's not perfect, but it's much, much better than the heyday of the 2013 pollution problems.

  • China is now the world's biggest investor in green energy.

  • It spent over $100 billion in 2018, which was 56% more than the U.S.

  • Initiatives have included supporting the electric vehicle industry by providing subsidies for EV buyers.

  • And helping build out infrastructure that allows electric cars to drive and charge around its cities.

  • EV sales are huge in China. It's the biggest market in the world for electric vehicles.

  • It's not just cars as well. Electric buses are a huge deal in China.

  • China is betting big on solar energy as well.

  • In 2019, over a third of the world's solar panels are estimated to be installed in China.

  • But the war on pollution promises to be a long one.

  • Four decades of breakneck economic growth have turned China into the world's biggest carbon emitter.

  • And it's still going to depend on coal for years to come.

At its worst, Beijing's air quality looked like this.

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How China Is Scrambling for Clean Air

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    Jessieeee posted on 2019/06/06
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