However, experts say Beijing's pollution still poses 'an ongoing health risk for residents'
Beijing reached China’s national air quality standards last year - a historic first for one of the world’s most populous cities.
The city’s yearly average of PM 2.5 - fine inhalable particles which are hazardous to human health - dropped 13 percent from the previous year’s numbers to 33 micrograms per cubic meter, officials announced during a Tuesday briefing.
“The improvements are real… and happening across the industrial belt surrounding Beijing, as well as in much of the rest of the country,” Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air Lead Analyst Lauri Myllyvirta explained.
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Despite this positive shift, the expert cautioned that the levels of pollution in the city still remained high enough to “constitute an ongoing health risk for residents.”
Though the new number meets China’s national air quality standard of 35 micrograms per cubic meter, it still surpasses the World Health Organization’s limit of 5 micrograms sevenfold.
Myllyvirta emphasized that “Further improvement will require a shift from coal and oil to clean energy.”
China is gearing up to fight pollution in its capital city ahead of the upcoming 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, including the city’s winter smog.
President Xi Jinping pledged to run a “green” Olympic Games when China first won the bid to host the international competition back in 2015, and Beijing aims to make the event entirely “carbon neutral.”
However, environmental advocacy group Greenpeace warns that it would be difficult to determine if this goal is met given the lack of data from China.