Beijing Cuts Car Use to Clean Up Pollution Before APEC Meeting

Aug 06, 2014 5:01 am ET

Aug. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Beijing ordered official vehicles off the road and urged people to take public transport to ensure smog-free skies for a preparatory meeting ahead of an Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in November.

The Chinese capital cut government car use by 70 percent for 16 days starting today to clean up the air and ease traffic for the Third Senior Officials’ Meeting for APEC, the Beijing city government said on its website. Residents are encouraged to take public transport, ride their bikes or walk.

Chinese leaders have imposed smog-control measures in the past, including before the 2008 Olympics when some construction was stopped and factories shut down. Levels of PM2.5, the small particles that pose the greatest threat to human health, averaged 89.5 micrograms per cubic meter in Beijing last year; the World Health Organization recommends average annual exposure to no more than 10 micrograms per cubic meter.

The city has also sought to limit car purchases to control traffic congestion that ranked worst in the world along with Mexico City, according to a 2010 International Business Machines Corp. study.

The PM2.5 pollution in Beijing was 5 as 4 p.m. today.

Leaders from the 21 APEC member economies including President Barack Obama, Japan’s Prime Minster Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin are scheduled to gather in Beijing in November on a date that still hasn’t been decided. A coordinating group of officials from Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, and the city of Tianjin, 70 miles (110 kilometers) southeast, held a meeting Aug. 3 to discuss how to keep smog levels low during the summit.

Some factories will be ordered to stop work or cut capacity, according to a the Beijing Daily report posted on the city government’s website.