Monday 16 Jul 2018 | 20:30 | SYDNEY
Monday 16 Jul 2018 | 20:30 | SYDNEY

Smoggy days in Beijing

29 July 2008 12:22

Guest blogger: Alistair Thornton is a Beijing-based economic analyst.

After a couple of days last week where clouds and pollution dissipated, leaving Beijing basking in 35ºC sunshine, the smog is back. Today it hangs thick in the air, as obvious to the eye as to the lungs. Pollution levels are now at their highest this month, perhaps signalling that the extravagant lengths authorities have gone to aren’t really working. This is, obviously, slightly worrying for Olympics organisers. The last thing they want is the opening ceremony fireworks disappearing from sight into the haze.

With this in mind, the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau is mulling over emergency measures to be implemented in the 48 hours prior to the Games. Although details are sketchy, these basically involve a further slashing of the number of cars on the roads. The initial vehicle restrictions came into play last Sunday, forcing approximately half of Beijing’s drivers off the road. This, along with the cessation of major construction work (including work on the World Trade Centre, Beijing’s tallest building) and various factory closures, was meant to bring sunshine to Beijing’s spruced-up streets. And for a few days last week, it seemed to be working a treat. That didn’t last.

However, Mr. Du of the Environmental Protection Bureau is 'confident' that by the time the opening ceremony kicks off pollution levels will be within WHO standards. I hope he has good reason to be, because as Team China filed into the newly opened Olympic Village on Sunday, the Bird’s Nest stadium opposite was hardly visible.