Timeline of pollution in Beijing
This is a timeline of pollution in Beijing, attempting to describe progression in coping with all kinds of pollution in the city.
|Time period||Development summary|
|1970s||Environmental protection starts in the late decade in China and Beijing.|
|1980s||Beijing starts to build its air quality monitoring system. Air pollution starts becoming a major problem in northern China. The city already experiences photochemical smog.|
|1990s||Air pollution in Beijing becomes very severe. By the late decade, the ambient concentrations of pollutants including sulfur dioxide and total suspended particles in Beijing seriously exceed Chinese national air quality standards. The first local government air pollution control program in China is introduced in the city. Multiple emission standards start being introduced.|
|2000s||Air pollution remains a serious problem in Beijing during the decade, marked by very frequent pollution episodes, especially during the winter. Air quality in Beijing improves significantly during and after the Summer Olympic Games, but most of the effect fades away by the end of October 2009.|
|2010s||Air quality monitoring stations aire introduced. Beijing issues red alerts for severe pollution in 2015, the first since the emergency alert system was established. Toward the second half of the decade, emissions of PM2.5, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide are found to be reduced by 97%, 98% and 86% respectively compared with 20 years earlier, resulting in significant environmental and health benefits.|
|Year||Month and date||Category||Event type||Details|
|1980||Background||Statistics||The population in Beijing is reported to be 8.8 million.|
|1980s||Air pollution||Infrastructure||Beijing starts to build its air quality monitoring system.|
|1986||Air pollution||Crisis||Beijing experiences photochemical smog in the summer.|
|1988||General||Policy||Beijing’s municipal government maintains a preventative policy of eradicating the rodents, which would dramatically reduce rat numbers.|
|1997||General||Program||Beijing’s environmental program begins. It would become the centerpiece of the city’s Olympic environmental commitments.|
|1998||Air pollution||Program||Beijing begins an intensified air pollution control program, and begins to publish weekly air quality reports.|
|1998||Air pollution||Policy||Beijing launches the first local government air pollution control program in China. Hundreds of concrete measures are implemented targeting at key pollution sources of particulate matter and soot, namely coal consumption, industrial emissions, motor vehicle emissions, and dust.|
|1998||Air pollution||Statistics||Beijing records only 100 Blue Sky days.|
|1999||January 1||Air pollution||Policy||Beijing introduces emission standard for exhaust pollutants from light-duty vehicles.|
|1999||April 1||Air pollution||Policy||Beijing introduces emission standard for pollutants at double idle speed from vehicle with petrol engine, and for smoke at free acceleration from farm vehicles.|
|2000||Air pollution||Infrastructure||Beijing starts publishing daily reports on its air quality.|
|2001||January 1||Air pollution||Policy||Beijing introduces emission standard for exhaust emissions from motorcycles and mopeds.|
|2002||March 1||Air pollution||Policy||Beijing introduces integrated emission standard of boilers pollutants. Subsidies for urban coalfired boiler renovation are introduced.|
|2003||Air pollution||Policy||Euro-II emission standard are implemented for new vehicles in Beijing.|
|2003||Air pollution||Policy||Beijing adopts limits and measurement methods for exhaust smoke under lugdown test from agricultural vehicles, motorcycles and mopeds under steady-state loaded mode, exhaust pollutants from gasoline vehicles under steady-state loaded mode, and exhaust smoke standard for diesel vehicle under lug-down test.|
|2003||April 1||Air pollution||Policy||Beijing adopts limits and measurement methods for exhaust pollutants from nonroad diesel engines.|
|2003||October 1||Air pollution||Policy||Beijing adopts emission controls and limits for oil-gas from gas stations, emission controls and measurement standard for oil-gas from fuel depots, and emission controls and measurement standard for oil-gas from tank trucks.|
|2004||Air pollution||Research||According to the United States Embassy in Beijing, the concentration of airborne particulates in the city equals that of New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Atlanta combined.|
|2005||Air pollution||Policy||Beijing introduces subsidies for phasing out old and used buses and taxies. Low electricity tariffs and subsidies for demonstration areas of coal-to-electricity transformation are introduced, as well as extension of the subsidies to city-wide boiler renovation.|
|2008||January||Air pollution||Policy||Beijing becomes the first city in China to require the Chinese equivalent to the Euro 4 emission standard.|
|2008||General||Program||A number of subsidies up to a maximum of 3 million Yuan are granted for the closing of high-polluting, energy-intensive and water-intensive enterprises and the upgrading of production processes and equipment.|
|2008||June||Air pollution||The United States Embassy in Beijing begins tweeting air quality index levels at the handle @BeijingAir.|
|2008||July||General||Program||Beijing holds the Summer Olympic Games, and starts policy to eradicate cockroaches, flies, and mosquitoes in a bid to make the city cleaner and more “civilized.”  Just a week before the Summer Olympic Games, despite months of drastic attempts to shut down factories and curb other sources of pollution, Beijing's pollution persists at embarrassing levels.|
|2008–2014||Air pollution||Statistics||According to study, Beijing had 1,812 "unhealthy" level air days in this period, with only two days reaching acceptably low levels of pollution.|
|2009||Air pollution||Policy||Beijing introduces subsidies for early retirement or transfer of vehicles and for resident purchase of electric heating equipment.|
|2010||Air pollution||Policy||Beijing introduces solar collector subsidies and expansion of subsidies to coal-fired boilers over 14MV.|
|2011||Air pollution||Policy||Beijing introduces subsidies for purchase of electric vehicles for taxi or postal services; battery leasing and charging subsidies for electric buses and sanitation vehicles. Authorities also introduce subsidy for loan interest for buying new clean trucks.|
|2011||Background||Statistics||The population in Beijing reaches 20.2 million.|
|2012||Air pollution||Policy||Beijing increases subsidies for early retirement of vehicles.|
|2012||Air pollution||Policy||Beijing cumulates 18 implemented phases of the air pollution control programs based on the requirements of the five-year plan for environmental protection, including two phases for some years (heating season and non-heating season) during 1998-2010 and one phase per year during 2011-2012.|
|2012–2013||Air pollution||Statistics||Regional transport emissions account for 28 to 36 percent of PM pollution in Beijing during this period.|
|2013||Air pollution||Policy||Beijing introduces subsidies for electric passenger vehicles, industry-purpose vehicles and fuel-cell vehicles. Authorities also introduce heat pump construction subsidies.|
|2013||Air pollution||Policy||As part of a campaign, Beijing starts phasing out coal-fired stoves in the city. Natural gas and other forms of clean energy are used to replace coal.|
|2013||January||Air pollution||Crisis||Beijing experiences a prolonged bout of smog so severe that citizens dub it an “airpocalypse”; the concentration of hazardous particles reaches forty times the level deemed safe by the World Health Organization.|
|2013||Air pollution||Infrastructure||A total of 35 ambient air quality monitoring stations which can monitor 6 major pollutants such as PM2.5 and O3, are installed across Beijing.|
|2013||June||Air pollution||Policy||The Action Plan for Clean Air in Beijing is introduced, setting targets for the 2013–2017 period, requiring the city's PM10 and PM2.5 concentration to be reduced by 10 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively, and the annual concentration of PM2.5 to not exceed the threshhold of 60 µg/m3.|
|2013||July 12||Air pollution||Study||Research finds that life expectancy is 5.5 years shorter in northern China than in the southern counterpart. Profuse coal burning is listed as the primary culprit behind shortened life expectancy. The Ministry of Environmental Protection dismisses the findings as “unconvincing."|
|2013||December||Air pollution||Program||Beijing is asked to lead the establishment of the Mechanism for Coordinated Prevention and Control of Air Pollution in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei and Surrounding Areas with the support of China’s State Council.|
|2014||Air pollution||Policy||Beijing introduces subsidies for environmental-friendly technological transformation, for the closing of polluting enterprises, and for individual purchase of electric passenger vehicles and fuel-cell vehicles. Construction waste transportation vehicle reconstruction assistance is introduced. Authorities also increase subsidies for suburban coal-fired boiler renovation.|
|2015||January 28||General||Mayor of Beijing Wang Anshun declares: “At the present time ... Beijing is not a livable city." The declaration is thought to be prompted by a recen reported decrease in tourism of 10 percent because of pollution levels and economic decline.|
|2015||September||Air pollution||Crisis||Six runners and a race official suffer heart attacks during a marathon in Beijing due to heavy smog. The AQI reaches a level of 175 and several runners wear masks during their efforts to cross the finish line.|
|2015||December||Air pollution||Policy||Beijing issues red alerts for severe pollution, the first since the emergency alert system was established. The municipal government closes schools, limits road traffic, halts outdoor construction, and pauses factory manufacturing. |
|2015||December||Air pollution||Funding||The Asian Development Bank approves a US$300 million loan to help China combat pollution in the capital region.|
|2015||Air pollution||Policy||Beijing authorities start implementing a “coal-to-gas” policy.|
|2015||Water pollution||Statistics||A reported 1.96 million cubic meters of untreated wastewater was discharged in Beijing in the year. This water has been ruled unusable for agricultural, industrial and even decorative purposes dumped into rivers and lakes.|
|2016||Air pollution||Infrastructure||A new generation of integrated air quality monitoring network is established in Beijing, combining advanced technologies like high resolution satellite remote sensing and laser radar.|
|2017||January||Water pollution||Study||According to study, 39.9% of water in Beijing is so polluted that it is essentially functionless.|
|2017||Air pollution||Study||Average PM2.5 pollution level in Beijing remains 65% above the national standard, and six times above the World Health Organization guidelines.|
|2017||October||Air pollution||Policy||Beijing starts the biggest shutdown of steel factories in history. The measures are a part of an aggressive nationwide action plan that aims to cut wintertime particulate pollution by 15% year-on-year over the next five months.|
|2017||Air pollution||Study||Emissions of PM2.5, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide in Beijing are found to be reduced by 97%, 98% and 86% respectively compared with 20 years earlier, resulting in significant environmental and health benefits.|
|2018||Air pollution||Study||The State Council releases new blue sky action plan for 2018-2020, which requires Beijing lower PM2.5 concentrations and reduce the frequency of heavy pollution days, to improve air quality substantially.|
|2019||March||General||Research||Greenpeace releases report ranking Beijing 122nd in the list of the world's most polluted cities.|
|2019||May||General||Research||A survey by Deutsche Bank Research ranks Beijing in 55th place in terms of quality of life on a list of 56 cities from around the world. The only city deemed worse than Beijing in terms of living standards is Lagos, Nigeria.|
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