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Beijing issues second ever 'red alert' for severe smog
[SHANGHAI] China's capital city issued a "red alert" for pollution on Friday, hard on the heels of its first-ever such warning earlier this month, as the Beijing leadership vows to crack down on often hazardous levels of smog.
Authorities in the Chinese capital warned that Beijing would be shrouded in heavy pollution from Saturday until next Tuesday, prompting the highest-level warning that leads to emergency responses such as limiting car use and closing schools.
After decades of unbridled economic growth, China's leadership has vowed to crack down on severe levels of air, water and soil pollution, including the heavy smog that often blankets major cities.
Beijing's second red alert comes after a landmark climate agreement was reached in Paris earlier this month, setting a course to move away from a fossil fuel-driven economy within decades in a bid to arrest global warming.
The city's first red alert was issued on Dec 7, restricting traffic and halting outdoor construction.
The Beijing Meteorological Service said in a statement vehicle use would be severely restricted, and that fireworks and outdoor barbecues would be banned. It also recommended schools cancel classes.
City residents have previously criticised authorities for being too slow to issue red alerts for heavy smog, which often exceeds hazardous levels on pollution indices.
Environmental Protection Minister Chen Jining vowed this month to punish agencies and officials for any failure to implement a pollution emergency response plan quickly, the state-run Global Times tabloid said.
Many cities around China suffer from high levels of pollution, with Shanghai schools banning outdoor activities and authorities limiting work at construction sites and factories earlier this week.