Beijing sets ambitious “blue sky” target

BEIJING, January 4 — Beijing set an ambitious target of 245 “blue sky” days in the city for 2007, after pipping its 2006 target of 238 days by just three days.

According to the municipal environmental protection bureau, the Chinese national capital will strive to have 245 days with level two on the air quality index or better in 2007.

The city had fulfilled the annual target of 238 days for 2006 by December 24, and saw three more days of blue sky before the New Year’s Day.

The target last year was once widely believed to be a “mission impossible” as the city was hit by severe sandstorms last spring.

Halfway through the year,, the city had recorded 10 fewer days of fine air quality than in the same period of the previous year, according to the local bureau.

However, rains in July and August helped the city eventually catch up and beat its target.

Du Shaozhong, deputy director of the bureau, attributed the achievement partly to intensified efforts made by environmental protection agencies at various levels in reducing pollution from coal burning. Du made no mention of the work of the Beijing Weather Modification Office, which reportedly used cloud seeding to induce sky-clearing rain.

According to the bureau’s Web site, the municipal government will put air quality improvement, the residents’ biggest concern, on top of its agenda in 2007.

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