New Year, New Measure: Beijing To Launch Environmental Police Force

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Just as Beijing ushered in the new year with the worst week of bad air in three years, police in the capital have announced to organize an environmental force to tackle smog in the new year.

China’s state news agency Xinhua reported that Beijing’s acting mayor Cai Qi said city authorities will take tougher measures to curb air pollution. “Open-air barbecues, garbage incineration, biomass burning, dust from roads — these acts of non-compliance with regulations are actually the result of lax supervision and weak law enforcement,” he told the press and citizens at a meeting on Sunday. He added that coal consumption in the capital will be slashed by 30 percent this year.

Last week, while people in the capital had been inhaling foul air with a seven-day average AQI of 334, the Beijing Municipal Education Commission announced that air purifiers purchased using city finances will be installed in local elementary and middle schools. However, the commission did not specify how much money will be allocated to each school, or what kind of air purifiers will be purchased.

Prior to the announcement, the commission said in December it had qualms about putting up air purification systems in Beijing classrooms, saying their use would lead to “the easy transmission of germs,” since rooms would be sealed. Commission head Xian Lianping said schools must get permission first from parents prior to installing air purifiers.

Despite this, several private schools in Beijing have installed air purifiers or even specialized domes with air filters for physical activities.

Current emergency protocols for air pollution mean that classes are cancelled during a red alert, while outdoor school activities are cancelled during an orange alert.

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