The effective implementation of reducing emissions under China’s Five-Year Clean Air Action Plan (2013-17), led to a sharp drop in PM2.5 levels at the beginning of 2018. Although highly welcome, this seemed unusual to Beijingers, as the city’s smog usually peaks during winters.
However, Beijingers’ optimism for continued blue skies was short-lived since the spring months saw a rise in pollution levels instead of a drop compared to the previous years’ patterns. The winter’s drop can be attributed to sharp restrictions for factory emissions to meet the targets towards the very end of the Five-Year Clean Air Action Plan. These restrictions were then lifted when the term of the plan ended. The Ministry of Environment is reviewing the results of the previous plan before it can decide its next policy steps. This gap in policy has led to resumption in high emission levels, and requires to be addressed through a more comprehensive plan of action.