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Friday, December 18, 2015, 10:58

Smog: Beijing issues second ever red alert

By Agencies

Smog: Beijing issues second ever red alert
This combination image of two photographs taken on Dec 10, 2015 (top) and the previous day on Dec 9 (bottom) commuters waiting for their buses on clear and polluted days in Beijing. Beijing's first ever red alert for smog expired on Dec 10. (AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER)

SHANGHAI - China's capital city issued a "red alert" for pollution on Friday, hard on the heels of its first-ever such warning earlier this month, as the Beijing leadership vows to crack down on often hazardous levels of smog.

According to Beijing Municipal Air Pollution Emergency Command Center, the second red alert will be effect from 7 am on Dec 19 to midnight Dec 22 when Beijing would be shrouded in heavy pollution. The air pollution will be worse than the spell between Dec 6 and 9, it forecast.

The Beijing Meteorological Service said in a statement vehicle use would be severely restricted, and that fireworks and outdoor barbecues would be banned. It also recommended schools cancel classes.

China's leadership has vowed to crack down on severe levels of air, water and soil pollution, including the heavy smog that often blankets major cities.

Beijing's second red alert comes after a landmark climate agreement was reached in Paris earlier this month, setting a course to move away from a fossil fuel-driven economy within decades in a bid to arrest global warming.

The city's first red alert was issued on Dec 7, restricting traffic and halting outdoor construction.

Environmental Protection Minister Chen Jining vowed this month to punish agencies and officials for any failure to implement a pollution emergency response plan quickly, the Global Times reported.

Many cities around China suffer from high levels of pollution, with Shanghai schools banning outdoor activities and authorities limiting work at construction sites and factories earlier this week.

Some parts of north China will see the worst smog so far this year beginning Saturday, the official forecaster said on Thursday.

According to the National Meteorological Center, the air pollution will last through the following Tuesday and be worse than the spell between Dec 6 and 9, which forced Beijing to issue its highest smog alert for the first time since the emergency response system was set up in October 2013.

Visibility in Beijing and some neighboring regions will be reduced to less than one kilometer during the new bout of smog, and the density of PM 2.5 pollution in some of the regions will exceed 500 micrograms per cubic meter, the observatory said. The World Health Organization's recommended maximum is 25 micrograms per cubic meter.

Coal burning and car emissions are some of the major sources of air pollution. In winter, an increase in coal-burning for heating in north China and still weather often exacerbate other forms of pollution and create periods of heavy smog lasting days.

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