China is seeing signs of success in its fight against smog as pollution levels slump dramatically in the capital region Beijing.
Concentrations of PM2.5—the tiny particles that pose the greatest health risks—plunged 33 percent from a year earlier in the fourth quarter across Beijing, Tianjin and 26 surrounding cities, Greenpeace East Asia said in a report on Thursday. Levels in the capital alone tumbled 54 percent. The drops come after government policies last year forced millions of homes and businesses to switch from coal to cleaner-burning natural gas.
The bluer skies came at a price, as the widespread switching to natural gas contributed to shortages of the fuel, leaving homes frigid and factories shut. Still, improving air quality is a win for President Xi Jinping, who pledged to unleash an “iron hand” against pollution, and anti-coal measures will likely continue, according to Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.