Beijing under a cloud of pollution in the midst of COP26

The city of Beijing closed its playgrounds on Friday due to air pollution, as China increases its coal production in the midst of COP26 on climate change.

• Read also: COP26: journey to the green planet

China, the world’s largest polluter, is under fire at the international conference underway in Glasgow, due to the absence of President Xi Jinping.

As states must negotiate a reduction in their greenhouse gas emissions, China announced this week that it has increased its coal production by one million tonnes per day.

The country, which depends 60% on hard coal for its electricity production, has faced power cuts in recent months and has increased its coal extraction accordingly.

In this context, a thick fog covered the Chinese capital on Friday, where visibility was reduced to 200 meters in places, according to the national weather forecast.

Sections of highways to major cities across the country were closed due to insufficient visibility.

Local authorities blamed the phenomenon on “adverse weather conditions and regional spread of pollution”.

Schools in the capital have been ordered to suspend sports lessons and all outdoor activities.

The presence of fine particles was evaluated at around 220, a “very unhealthy” level, by the United States Embassy in Beijing, while the WHO recommends not to exceed the threshold of 15.

Air pollution has eased markedly in recent years in Beijing, which is due to host the Winter Olympics next February.

But the arrival of cold has led this year to gradually turn on the heating in the northern regions of the country, fueling pollution.

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