The air outside may have reverted back to its usual levels of opacity, but at least the information about who, exactly, is responsible for emitting all the gunk Beijingers are breathing in is getting more transparent. Last week the Beijing-based Institute of Environmental and Public Affairs released a new pollution-tracking app that gives a more detailed picture of pollution sources in and around the city.
The aptly named Chinese-language ‘Pollution Map‘ app (available for both iOS and Android) provides real time emissions data from around 3,700 enterprises across the country on an hourly basis. The information is displayed on a map and pin-pointed in a color-coded system ranging from the green (‘excellent’) end of the scale to more serious levels of PM 2.5 indicated in red (‘heavily polluted’), maroon (‘seriously polluted’) and black (‘beyond the index’).
We checked out some of the readings for greater Beijing as we were writing this post and noted that there were 11 ‘seriously polluted’ stations, including Sanlitun Soho (with a PM 2.5 reading of 224) and the Wangfujing area (231), within the Fourth Ring alone.
In related news a Xinhua article (via Wantchinatimes) states that the State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SAOCH) has appeared on a list of heavy polluters in Beijing, and that the ministry was being uncooperative with Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau inspectors who were sent to investigate.
One SAOCH canteen was blamed for refusing checks on its treatment of kitchen fumes, one of the ‘unsavory elements’ said to contribute to the capital’s PM 2.5 pollution …
A five-month-long crackdown on polluters in the capital was launched earlier this month and will focus on "emissions from industrial chimneys, casting factories, printing houses and chemical, furniture, medicine, industrial coating and automobile plants," according to Xinhua.
Unfortunately, it looks like the bureau will have a tough time dealing with many of these polluters, according to a Reuters report citing the fact that many companies "covered by Beijing’s municipal carbon laws" have ignored a "key reporting deadline," with a few "powerful companies" even questioning the Environmental Bureau’s power to regulate them.
And so once again a tangle of well-meaning policies boils down to a matter of enforcement, and how this current crackdown will ultimately pan out remains as murky as the air outside.
This post first appeared on thebeijinger.com on June 17, 2014.
Photo by Jerry Chan