CHOKING smog blanketed Beijing and much of northern China yesterday as climate change talks opened in Paris and a new Chinese report raised alarm about rising sea levels.
As the global summit began, the US embassy in Beijing recorded concentrations of PM2.5, tiny airborne particles which embed deeply in the lungs, at 625μg2/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre) – 25 times above the World Health Organisation’s recommended maximum of 25μg2/m3 .
Plummeting visibility grounded flights and authorities said levels in one southwestern district had reached 9 7625μg2/m3 – more than 39 times the WHO limit.
In the centre of the capital the air had an acrid taste, and skyscraper summits were invisible from the ground.
“You can’t even see people standing directly in front of you,” one disgruntled commuter wrote on Chinese Twitter equivalent Sina Weibo.
Beijing’s “Third National Climate Change Assessment Report” said sea levels had risen 2.9mm annually from 1980 to 2012, according to the official China Climate Change website.
Temperatures could rise by as much as 5°C by the end of this century, the report said.
Smog also blanketed New Delhi yesterday, with PM2.5 levels soaring to 317μg2/m3.
Beijing’s severe pollution follows record-breaking smog in northeastern China last month, when PM2.5 levels reached 1 400μg2/m3 in Shenyang – the highest yet registered.