Video: Can Beijing Clean Up its Air the Same Way New York and London Did?

The video above, "Fresh Air by 2030," is the latest offering from our partner site China Green, a production of the Center on U.S.-China Relations. Producer Michael Zhao writes about his inspiration for making the short film:

When, in January, the gray, soupy, acidic air enshrouding China’s capital demanded the creation of the neologism “Airpocalypse,” it looked as though Beijing might finally reach a tipping point—that enough political will might bubble up through the haze to catalyze a real change for clean air.

For almost the whole month, much of urban China all but disappeared behind the heaviest toxic smog on record. Beijing registered air pollution readings off the charts. On some days, for hours at a time, the air quality index (AQI) in the capital flirted with 1,000—twice the highest, most dangerous level of fine particulate matter measured in the air by the Chinese government’s own instruments. And Beijing’s air was relatively clean when compared with places such as nearby Shijiazhuang in Hebei Province.

For more than six years, I recorded the daily air quality by taking pictures from fixed points in several major Chinese cities. I thought I’d seen the full range of smog a huge developing country with a booming economy had to offer before something would have to be done about it.

But January’s dirty air defied any previous standards and begged me to connect China’s air pollution crisis to the overall global climate change challenge.

You can read the whole thing at China Green. And for more on air quality in China, check out Zhao's

About the Author

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Dan Washburn is Asia Society's Chief Content Officer. The Financial Times named his book, The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream, one of the best of 2014.