Known for its ever-present dark cloud of pollution, Beijing got a rare glimpse of blue skies. The city temporarily banned five million cars from travelling the roads, and the results were beautiful.
For residents of Beijing, checking the air quality index is just another part of the day. Usually, they find that the air they breathe is “very unhealthy” to “hazardous”. 2015 has been a particularly bad year for pollution, and has even caused flight delays.
But Beijing wanted to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the day Japan officially surrendered during World War II with a big statement. Their decision to ban the cars was not to let traffic through, but specifically to clear the air for the event.
For two weeks, not only were cars banned, but factories were shut down as well.
With the air quality at a healthy 17 ppm out of a possible 500 ppm, citizens of the city enjoyed the outdoors for the parade before the smog was back on Friday.
Pollution is a hot topic in Beijing right now, and the government appears to be committed to reducing emissions for the health of both its citizens and the environment, even though the country has a reputation for prioritizing manufacturing and economic health over environmental.
The government revealed The Action Plan for Air Pollution Control (2013-2017) in July, which allocates $230 billion, or 1.7 trillion yuan, to reduce air pollution. Funding will come from a tax on automobile drivers, added to gasoline prices.
The city also plans to increase its fleet of taxis with 1,000 electric vehicles.
It remains to be seen how this will effect the pollution in Beijing. Since their economy is so reliant on manufacturing, they may find that the factories are the most significant contributors to their air quality problem.
Images (c) CNN