Before this year ends, Beijing will have 4 million cars on the roads. Not to worry, says a city official, there is room for more.
Beijing’s car population reached 3.96 million last week, writes the state news agency Xinhua. The city adds 2100 new cars per day. At that rate, the 4m mark will be reached in 19 days.
The Beijing municipal environmental protection bureau said at a press conference yesterday that the city already has removed more than half of its 200,000 high-polluting vehicles from streets this year.
“This contributes to a reduction of 25 percent of the total car emissions in Beijing,” Li Kunsheng, director of the vehicle emission management division of the bureau said. What’s more, “this leaves more room for Beijing’s roaring car population.”
Some Beijingers beg to differ. After a long streak of clean air days, Beijing’s sky is covered by a layer of haze. The smell of coal fires and burned plastic is in the air. Twenty-five out of 28 of the city’s air pollution monitoring stations reported the air as “unhealthy,” Air quality statistics from the US Embassy in Beijing, using a stricter air pollution index method, gave a “very unhealthy” warning.
From my admittedly unscientific perspective, the rotten air has more to do with the winter heating season and the very cold weather which causes mostly coal fired power plants to run on full blast. A few weeks ago, Beijing had celebrated the best air quality in 11 years.