Beijing has issued a second pollution red alert, little more than a week after the first ever such warning. The Chinese capital will see hazardous smog from Saturday until Tuesday, the official meteorological service said. Authorities have issued a notice asking for major market places, schools, malls, restaurants, and many more to be closed with immediate notice. Transportation has also been limited leading to a major lockdown. Authorities have predicted that the smog will make its presence felt around the major cities till late on Tuesday. Meanwhile, authorities in Beijing have also announced that they will set up a panel to look into ways through which the city can treat and tackle air, water, and soil pollution.
Despite last week’s alert, the citizens were disappointed with the arrangements made. There were many who displayed their discomfort stating that the Chinese meteorological department is slow in its processes. They further added that authorities had delayed the announcement, which lead to a lot of hazardous health implications for them. China’s second red alert came, ironically, immediately after the recent climate conference held in Paris just a few days earlier. At the summit, it was decided that nations would move away from fossil fuel and expand renewable forms like solar energy in order to decrease pollution.
A local tabloid in China recorded Environmental Protection Minister Chen Jining stating that he would go to the extent of punishing authorities responsible for delays in the announcement of a red alert. However, such punishments remain unheard of. Many schools and outdoor construction sites in Shanghai and major manufacturing units have been shut down until further notice depending on the clearance from the meteorological department. China’s ruling Communist Party has built its legitimacy on a bargain with the people. The ruling party promises prosperity and citizens do not raise a hue and cry about the absence of democracy and the respective freedoms associated with it. The basic demands of the people are stretching beyond “make us richer”; these days, it’s “give us a decent quality of life; let our children breathe clean air and eat safe food.” In response to the changing political climate, Chinese President Xi Jinping had earlier this year announced that Beijing would enact a national cap-and-trade system to limit carbon emissions, starting in 2017. As optimistic as that sounds, 2017 is still 13 months away. If similar climatic hazards were to occur again, lockdowns would prevail only leading to an economic downfall. Manufacturing being the key essential for China; a day of shutdown is a day of incurred losses which will become difficult to tame over a long period of time.