Luftforurening: Beijing forsvundet i gråbrun suppe

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Miljø / Politik

1358389164 MVtFIl 250x200 shkl Lad være med at trække vejret. Det er det bedste råd, som man kan give de 20 millioner indbyggere i Beijing, der er en af verdens mest forurenede hovedstæder.

Her forsvinder solen i flere dage. Himmelen er væk. Det samme er bygninger. Farver og skarpe konturer forsvinder i smoggen. Hvis E. L. James havde siddet i Beijing og skrevet sin trilogi om de 50 nuancer af grå, så ville bøgerne ikke have handlet om sex.

Derfor var det også lidt af en katastrofe, da jeg glemte min Respro Techno Anti Pollution Mask her i weekenden på en bar i en helsekost-butik. Det er en af de bedste masker på markedet, men den er svær at finde i Kina, så jeg plejer altid at købe et lille lager af dem, når jeg er i Europa.

Masken er nødvendig, når man går udenfor i Beijing i de dage, hvor det er forurenet, og det er de fleste af dem. Den er lige så uvurderlig som min Air Purifier, der er en maskine, som står i min lejlighed og renser luften. Det er en Blueair 203. Og hvis du bor i Danmark, så ved du måske ikke, hvad jeg snakker om. Men herovre taler vi om luftforurening, masker og luftrensere på samme måde, som danskere taler om vejret. Eller som Evan Osnos fra The New Yorker skriver:

In Beijing, we talk about air purifiers the way that teen-age boys talk about cars. More than once, I’ve gone into a friend’s apartment and put an admiring hand on a top-of-the-line, IQAir HealthPro, and said, “Niiiice.” (The cost? About nine hundred bucks per room.) At our house we have a lesser brand, and the following will sound like a joke, but I’m sorry to say it’s not: the filters for these machines are so expensive that we get ours under the table, through a connection that my wife has involving a stern Russian woman from Vladivostok. How she gets them, I don’t ask and she doesn’t tell.

Det kan være svært at forestille sig forureningen, hvis man ikke selv har oplevet det. Så hvor slemt er det? Her kan du sammenligne to fotos, som jeg har taget på en dag med blå himmel, og en dag hvor forureningen ‘kun’ var over 500. Plus, her en ‘forurenings-udsigt’ fra CCTV nyhederne søndag den 13. januar. Så svaret er – slemt. Især hvis du var her i Mordor Beijing i dagene omkring netop den 13. januar, hvor luftforureningen satte rekord. Som jeg skrev i Politiken i går søndag:

Man kan måle luftforureningen ved at se på de små partikler i luften, der er mindre end 2,5 mikrometer, og som man kalder for PM 2,5. Dem måler man så indholdet af per kubikmeter og sætter ind i en skala, der går fra 0-500.

Normalt ligger den form for luftforurening på 20-40 i Danmark. I lørdags toppede den i Beijing, da den røg langt uden for skalaen og landede på 886.

Noget af det højeste, der er blevet målt i Danmark i de senere år, var i 2010, da røgen fra russiske skovbrande blæste ind over Danmark. Her gik forureningen op omkring 100 PM 2,5, fortæller Jesper Christensen, der er seniorforsker ved Danmarks Miljøundersøgelser på Aarhus Universitet.

I Beijing regner vi 100 for en god dag. Mens jeg skriver det her, så er forureningen på 248. Tallet kommer fra den amerikanske ambassade, der måler luftkvaliteten og sender målingerne ud på Twitter.

Men selv lørdagens forurening var usædvanlig for Beijing. En PM 2,5 på 886 – i nogle distrikter var den endda tæt på 1.000 – svarer stort set til at trække vejret med hovedet inde over et bål. Jeg har aldrig oplevet noget lignende i de fem år, jeg har boet i Beijing. Og det værste af det – det var hele Nordkina, som blev dækket af en dyne af forurening, og Beijing var ikke engang på en top ti over de mest forurenede byer.

Her får du en opsamling med gode links om de seneste par ugers luftforurening:

Beijing Cream kommer med et godt eksempel på, hvor slem forureningen var i Kina i sidste uge. Smoggen var så tyk, at en møbelfabrik brændte i tre timer, før nogen opdagede det og ringede efter brandvæsenet:

Late Sunday night in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, a fire broke out at a furniture factory in Anji county that no one noticed for hours because they couldn’t see it through the “fog.” Xinhua has the report (my translation):

Due to a thick fog cover at the time, the initial smoke and open flames actually lasted nearly three hours before local residents discovered it.

About 60 firefighters and officers eventually arrived on the scene, at about 2:50 am, and worked for 10 hours. Large portions of the factory goods were destroyed.

Xinhua says the factory was a fire hazard because workers piled up large numbers of flammable substances.

Newsweek og Melinda Liu peger på en af grundene til den massive forurening i Beijing. Det er bilerne, som hun skriver:

So why can’t Beijing just clamp down on car ownership? Shanghai, for example, has raised the cost of vehicle license plates to restrict the number of cars on the road. But in Beijing, authorities are leery of allowing only the relatively wealthy to have cars. It goes against the Communist Party’s egalitarian roots. On top of that, as China’s capital, Beijing has many levels of government, and its members all need official vehicles. Under party head Xi Jinping, the new leadership team has mandated that officials should avoid profligate use of limousines. “The government should clearly instruct local governments of all levels to restrict buying luxury vehicles,” says Professor Hu.

Most analysts advocate raising the cost of parking in the center of Beijing, and charging a tax on people who drive in the city center during rush hours. But the capital’s transportation headaches won’t be resolved until public transport is improved. Meanwhile, residents may have to live with pollution from vehicle emissions. True, the killer smog itself has become a political issue, with growing complaints about government inaction. But dashing some Chinese residents’ dreams of owning their own cars would likely trigger resentment against the government—as well as tension between the haves and have-nots.

Slate har fået professor Jeffrey Wasserstrom, der selv er vokset op i den übersmoggede Los Angeles, til at skrive om, hvordan luftforureningen er en trussel mod kommunistpartiets legitimitet. En fin lille tekst, som jeg anbefaler at læse det hele af.

But public-health scares and heavy smog in Beijing and others places—believe it or not, at times other cities have even darker skies than the capital—are leaving some people skeptical about whether things are really getting better simply because they can now buy things at a mall. Is life really improving, they ask each other in private conversations, in online forums, and at protest rallies, if doing ordinary things like drinking milk and playing outside can cause your child to get sick? How can we trust a government, they wonder, that tries to hide the truth about obvious dangers, by censoring reports of doctored food and drink and until very recently used the word fog to describe the noxious substance that made it hard to see even nearby skyscrapers?

Financial Times interviewer en fremtrædende kinesisk forsker, der mener, at rødderne til den massive forurening stikker dybt ind i det politiske system. Og før det ændrer sig, vil smoggen ikke for alvor lette:

Wang Yuesi, an atmospheric physicist who is a member of the government working group for haze reduction in Beijing and neighbouring Tianjin, says the immediate causes of the “frightening” pollution were coal burning, car emissions and a particular weather pattern that trapped the polluted air over the low-lying city.

But the root causes are much bigger, and harder to solve.

“Only if reform of the political system is put on the agenda will the economic system and the [environmental] management system be able to catch up,” said Mr Wang. “China’s system doesn’t work well . . . Leaders only set their eyes on the economy.”

It is extremely unusual for a respected member of China’s scientific establishment to speak out about the politics behind the country’s environmental problems. Despite years of official pronouncements, government attempts to tackle pollution have mostly failed.

The key problem, as Chinese officials acknowledge, is enforcement of environmental laws.

One clear example is that the petrol sold in Beijing is high in sulphur, which results in more pollution from vehicle fumes. The sulphur content of Beijing’s petrol is “definitely higher than the national standard”, says Mr Wang. “CNPC and Sinopec bear a large responsibility in this regard,” he adds, referring to China’s two largest energy companies, which refine and sell most of the petrol in Beijing.

China Dialogue har en fin en artikel, der giver et godt overblik over den store folkesport her i Beijing – at hoste. Og hvor udlændinge har lagt mærke til forureningen i flere år – læs eksemplet i begyndelsen af artiklen med den finske pige – så er det først i de seneste år, at beijingerne selv er blevet opmærksomme på det:

People who arrive in Beijing from other Chinese cities often have the same complaint too. Yoga coach Liu Jia spent time in Guangxi province, south China, in 2011, setting up a new studio. It was only when she returned to Beijing that she realised she hadn’t been aware of the problem before. Yoga involves deep breathing and so requires clean air, and Liu spent a month finding the right air purifier and monitor.

Harry thinks Beijing residents are constantly coughing: taxi drivers cough; when they walk through their apartment complex they can hear the sound of coughing from the windows. He can’t understand why they don’t talk about it more. “Are Beijingers used to everyone coughing, or have they just not noticed?”

Sara recalls a magazine survey which asked 225 Chinese and foreigners what “the worst thing about Beijing” was. Of the foreigners, 75% said air quality – but only 28% of Chinese people gave the same answer, with 33% choosing transportation and others opting for high rents and inflation.

Most Beijingers only realised the dangers of particulate pollution in 2011, during the controversy over reporting of PM2.5 levels. Li Tianjian sells Yuanda brand air purifiers – and he saw sales rocket that year. Meanwhile, Wang Jun and Zhang Bin have 800,000 users for their mobile phone software providing nationwide air-quality index information.

That controversy also spurred the Beijing government to make dealing with PM2.5 pollution a priority for 2012. On June 1 the city issued the first standard limiting particulate emissions from diesel fuel. Plans for dealing with air pollution during the 12th Five Year Plan period issued in December aim to see PM2.5 levels drop by 15% in Beijing – as opposed to 5% in other key regions.

:: Foto her fra Sina’s side om luftforureningen

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Hurtige klik fra Kina af Kim Rathcke Jensen. Jeg er journalist og BA i kinesisk. Jeg bor i Beijing, hvor jeg arbejder som Politikens korrespondent i Kina og Asien.

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