Slowdown’s Gift to Beijing: Cleaner Air

From AP:

Last summer, Xu Demin struggled to cut emissions from his coal-fired factories as part of China’s all-out effort to clean the air for the Beijing Olympics.

He could have simply waited six months. This spring, overseas demand for his farming and construction machinery plummeted, forcing him to close two plants and lay off 300 workers.

The global economic slowdown is helping to accomplish what some in China’s leadership have striven to do for years: rein in the insatiable demand for coal-powered energy that has fed the country’s breakneck growth but turned it into one of the world’s most polluted nations.

Beijing, China’s normally smog-choked capital, is breathing some of its cleanest air in nearly a decade, as pollution-control efforts get a sizable boost from a slowing economy.

“It’s like the sky I saw overseas. I can see clouds. I’ve seen days here like I’ve seen in Europe or the U.S.,” Xu says, his voice echoing in the cavernous space of his idle factory outside Beijing.



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