China’s major cities are smog-choked. In fact, Beijing is notoriously known for being one of the smoggiest cities in the world.
Although the country has enacted strict emissions standards, they have not been enforced to send older, pollution-belching vehicles off the road.
To mark the 70th anniversary of China’s victory in World War II, Beijing decided to ‘clear the air’ for an extraordinary clear blue day. Beginning on August 20th, it banned factory production and forced the city’s five million cars to drive on alternating days, which meant 2.5 million cars went off the road on a given day for two weeks.
Two weeks of the ban dramatically improved the air quality of Beijing’s air by September 3rd, the day of the Victory Day parade.
During those two weeks, Beijing’s Air Pollution Index dropped to a pristine 17 out of 500, which signifies healthy air, in comparison to an average of 160, a level that can cause serious health issues.
Sadly, the day after the victory parade was over, the familiar smog returned immediately and hit an unhealthy 160 once again.