Notoriously smoggy Beijing has created a new police force specifically to crack down on air pollution. The environmental police squad is one of several new plans announced by Beijing’s acting major, Cai Qi to deal with the city’s massive pollution problem. Other measures on Cai’s list include: cutting coal use by 30 percent in 2017, shutting down 500 polluting factories, upgrading 2,500 facilities, phasing out 300,000 older vehicles and getting cleaner gas and diesel to stations as soon as Feb. 15.

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“Though we have made some progresses, air pollution in winter is still very serious,” Cai told media on Saturday. “That’s why the government must strengthen environmental protection and step up supervision and accountability in 2017. “Open-air barbecues, garbage incineration, biomass burning, dust from roads – these acts of non-compliance with regulations are actually the result of lax supervision and weak law enforcement.”

While air pollution is a constant problem in China, it tends to get worse in the winter and often goes beyond WHO safety guidelines. It is so bad it causes school and business closures, flight cancellations, and driving bans. Just one day before making the announcement, the government announced city schools and kindergartens would be equipped with air purifiers.

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Strict anti-pollution laws that came into effect in 2014 have taken somewhat of a bite out of the problem, but according to the Christian Science Monitor, an economic slowdown in 2016 dampened the enthusiasm a bit – as the Chinese government supported polluting industries to help drive economic growth.

Via Christian Science Monitor

Images via Yinan Chen and McKay Savage, Wikimedia Commons