Following warnings that the upcoming winter will be a particularly smoggy one in North China, due to increased humidity and possibly a lack of wind, authorities are pulling out all the stops to try to avert the looming threat of pollution.
The most dramatic thus far has been to order a halt on almost all major construction projects from November 15, for a total of four months. Emissions increase during this time as people burn coal for heating, so a halt on building is designed to hopefully offset the air pollution cause by construction, demolition dust and traffic from lorries carrying rubble and materials.
There are exceptions, however. “Livelihood” projects—defined as infrastructure like railroads, airports or possibly social housing—can secure permission for construction.
There have already been a number of crackdowns on industries in the North China region, particularly Hebei. Factories in certain high-emissions industries, like cement makers, have been ordered to close their doors. Steel mills have been told to reduce production.
Slightly further south, in Shandong, manufacturing industries have been hardest hit, with small and medium enterprises struggling to stay afloat as authorities order them to close. Environmental officials have been making random spot checks to ensure compliance. Initially these checks would just result in “advice” being given to operators, but since July there have been orders to shut down in some cases, suggesting the government is getting serious about smog.