Beijing is launching a new police force aimed at tackling its persistent smog problem. This comes after a month of particularly severe air quality that left the capital and dozens of other Chinese cities blanketed in thick, brown smog.
The city's acting mayor, Cai Qi, announced over the weekend that the new environmental police force will crack down on polluters such as "open-air barbeques, garbage incineration, biomass burning, [and] dust from roads," according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. He didn't offer any more specifics about the squad.
Cai also announced other measures to tackle the persistent problem, including closing the city's only coal-fired plant. In 2017, "coal consumption will be cut by 30 percent to less than 7 million tonnes" and "another 300,000 high-polluting old vehicles will be phased out," the news agency reports.
China's environmental problems are exacerbated by difficulties enforcing regulations. "China's ministry of the environment said during last week's hazardous smog, inspection teams found factories resuming production, despite being given stop-work orders," NPR's Rob Schmitz reports from Beijing.
The pollution has deadly consequences — as we reported, the World Health Organization said 1,032,833 deaths in China in 2012 were attributable to air quality. That's the highest in the world.