A man wearing a mask walks along Dawang Lu, Chaoyang district, Tuesday. Photo: Li Hao/GT
Beijing environment authorities shut down 103 factories Tuesday, taken 30 percent of government cars off the roads and enacted a number of other citywide measures in an attempt to reduce the smog.
The measures will last until Thursday, when the forecasts predict snow and windy weather will clear the air.
The Air Quality Index (AQI), which measures PM2.5, has consistently registered levels of 300 to over 400 since Monday, the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center said on its website.
Gao Xia, the media officer of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Economy and Information Technology, which implements the emergency measures, confirmed they shut down 103 factories in the metallurgy, building materials, and chemical sectors.
"Factories in other less-polluting industries are encouraged to follow suit, but it is not compulsory," she said.
Wang Xiaoming, media officer of Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, said it is the first time measures as tough as this have been enacted.
"The tougher elements of the emergency plan this time are that it covers not just one or two districts where pollution is severe, but all the districts of the city," Wang said.
Some measures, such as stopping trucks loaded with construction material, which were only enforced when the AQI was over 500, are now in force when the AQI tops 400.
"Whether the measures will continue Thursday depends on the pollution condition," he said.
An employee from Beijing Urban Construction Group, surnamed Yi, said that they ordered all their 56 construction sites to shut down from Tuesday evening to Thursday.
"We will supervise them to ensure the order is carried out smoothly," she said.
But an anonymous employee from China Huaneng Group, China's largest State-owned power generating company, said he did not know about the emergency plan.
"All power plants produce pollutants, but people need us in wintertime," he said.
Zhou Rong, climate and energy director of Greenpeace, said that she welcomes the plan, but does not know how effective it will be.
"Atmospheric pollution is not a singular problem of a city but a whole region," she said, noting the neighboring cities and provinces should also have this kind of emergency plan. She noted that as the measures are only in place for two days, it may not make much difference in the long-term.
Some believe that stronger legislation is required. Property mogul Pan Shiyi launched a poll on his Sina microblog Tuesday to get public support for clean air legislation.
"I will deliver this result to the Beijing Municipal People's Congress and the local government later," he wrote. As of print time, 34,509 votes were cast, with 98.8 percent supporting his proposal.
From January 1 to 29, there were 24 smoggy days in Beijing, the highest since 1954, the People's Daily said Tuesday.