Smoggy and yellow air in Beijing

I have spent many smoggy days in Beijing. However, even more scary than a “nomal smoggy” day was the sandstorm I experienced in the middle of March in 2002. I had just arrived in Beijing and was getting settled in my flat. As I woke up on my second morning and looked out of the window the only thing I saw was yellow air, really yellow air. I could hardly see the wall of the neighboring building.

Then my phone started ringing: “Don’t go out today. You’d better stay at home. It’s a bad sandstorm.” My Chinese friends warned me and it was good they did. I simply didn’t know how dangerous a strong sand storm coming from the Gobi Desert can be.

Millions of trees have been planted since then according to the Green Great Wall project to stop the desert from growing and to act as a bulwark against the wind. However, sandstorms still belong to the Beijing winter.

The People’s Republic of China is a party of the Kyoto Protocol, but being a so called developing country it is only committed to reduce its emissions without having legally binding targets.

The following is part of an article from the New York Times published on February 3. 2014

China to Reward Cities and Regions Making Progress on Air Pollution


BEIJING — Chinese officials announced Thursday that they were offering a total of 10 billion renminbi, or $1.65 billion, this year to cities and regions that make “significant progress” in air pollution control, according to a report by Xinhua, the state-run news agency.

The announcement came from the State Council, China’s cabinet, after it held a meeting on Wednesday to discuss, among other issues, the country’s immense air pollution problem. “Control of PM2.5 and PM10 should be a key task,” the State Council said in a statement, referring to two kinds of particulate matter that are deemed harmful to human health.

The announcement of the financial incentives revealed how difficult it has been for some leaders in Beijing to get many Chinese companies and government officials to comply with environmental regulations. Though central officials have been saying with growing vigor that pollution of all kinds must be curbed, their efforts to force other parts of the bureaucracy and the state-run economy to obey rules have been stymied by the self-interest of some groups.

Last year, more than 100 cities in China had an average of 29.9 smoggy days, which was a 52-year high, China Daily reported, though it did not explain what constituted a smoggy day.

The majority of China’s energy use is based on coal, whose burning, besides being the major cause of air pollution in the country, also contributes to greenhouse gases and global warming. China has surpassed the United States as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases and the biggest coal consumer in the world.

The South China Morning Post introduces a possible new method of controlling air pollution

China to test new smog-busting drone to help clear polluted skies

Published on Wednesday, 05 March, 2014, 2:49pm, Updated on Thursday, 06 March, 2014, 4:24am by Darren Wee

New design of unmanned vehicle will spray chemicals that freeze floating particles, allowing them to fall to ground, developer says.

Government agencies are to test a new design of aerial drone to see whether it might help tackle the air pollution that often blankets much of the mainland, state media reported.

Air pollution control drone (South China Morning Post 5. March 2014)

Air pollution control drone (South China Morning Post 5. March 2014)

The vehicle will spray chemicals that freeze pollutants, allowing them to fall to the ground.

The tests would be led by the China Meteorological Administration and carried out later this month at airports and ports, Xinhua said.

The drone has been developed by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China and has a paragliding wing, which allows it to carry three times more weight than the fixed-wing version, making it more efficient and cost-effective.