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Beijing residents entered in the e New Year from deep inside a cloud of hazardous smog.
Air pollution in northern China was so heavy over the weekend that authorities on Sunday canceled dozens of flights at Beijing’s main airport and suspended buses from the capital to neighboring cities, the airport said in a statement.
Just south of Beijing, in the metropolis of Tianjin, more than 200 flights were canceled at the local airport due to poor visibility and some bus routes and highways were closed due to the smog, according to the city government.
Smog levels tend to spike in China’s northern provinces during the chilly winter months. Residents use more coal-fired power to heat their frigid homes, filling the skies with small breathable particles that can damage people’s lungs and hearts.
Large swaths of China’s north were enshrouded in smog in mid-December, prompting officials to order hundreds of factories and schools to close. Hundreds of Beijing flights were canceled then and motorists in 23 cities were required to drive on alternating days to reduce emissions.
The region’s latest round of air pollution began Dec. 30 and will likely persist through Jan. 5.
But the environmental organization said it remained hopeful that Chinese leaders can curb the nation’s crippling smog problem.
The dragon country is investing more money than any other nation in wind farms, solar plants and other renewable energy projects as it works to wean itself from highly polluting coal-fired power plants.