Beijing smog highlights climate deal urgency: China

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Beijing, Dec 8: The hazardous smog enveloping Beijing highlights the urgency for a deal at the Paris summit to cope with climate change, China today said as it acknowledged that the recurring smog could be due to its rapid economic growth.

"This (smog) problem comes with other climate change issues. Smog surely highlight the urgency of dealing with climate change and consolidate our resolution to resolve it," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.

A woman uses a scarf and others wear masks to cover their face from pollutants as they walk along a street on a polluted day in Beijing, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015. Schools closed and rush-hour roads were much quieter than normal as Beijing’s first-ever red alert for smog took effect Tuesday, closing many factories and invoking restrictions to keep half the city’s vehicles off the roads.

"China and other developing countries are victims of climate change. We have responsibility to our own people and people of the world. We are taking active measures to cope with climate change," she said while replying to a question on the impact of Beijing's pollution problem on the Paris summit.

Beijing today issued its first red alert -- highest in a four-tier emergency response system created in 2013 -- for pollution as air in the city of more than 22 million people turned hazardous.

Half of Beijing's 5.5 million private cars were ordered off the roads, schools and construction sites remained shut. However, the spokesperson said that China is "still a developing" country.

"Over the past decade we have made tremendous efforts in improving people's livelihoods." China, world's second-largest economy, battles heavy smog every winter in Beijing.

The city's experience with hazardous smog has persisted despite Chinese government's stated priority of cleaning up the legacy of pollution from years of rapid economic growth.

"After reforming and opening China has achieved a great deal of economic growth but we paid the price in terms of our resources and environment," Hua acknowledged.

"Learning from the past the Chinese government trying to seek a path that is green, low carbon and sustainable."


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