Asia Minute: Air Quality of Asian Capitals Highlight Challenges in Paris

Dec 1, 2015

Credit bafac / Flickr

World leaders are continuing to discuss what to do about climate change. But as they meet this week in Paris, there are reminders in several Asian capitals about the challenges countries are facing.  HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

The day the Paris climate talks opened, China’s capital city suffered its worst day of air quality this year.  U.S. embassies measure the air quality index of different cities.  The Environmental Protection Agency considers any reading of 50 or below to be “good” quality…while 300 or higher would trigger emergency health warnings in the United States.  Monday night, the US Embassy in Beijing recorded a level of 666.  By Tuesday morning it was down to 473—then back up to 566...levels China’s government still calls “hazardous”…down from the previous reading of “extremely hazardous.”

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi put the Air Quality Index there at 351 Tuesday - a range the Indian government calls “very poor” and the United States terms “very unhealthy.”  In southern China, Shenzhen had a reading of 185 Tuesday - a number China labels “moderately polluted” and the United States calls “unhealthy.”  Hong Kong started Tuesday at 74 and Singapore at 54 - levels both governments and the United States call “moderate.”

By comparison, late Monday, Hawai‘i ‘s air was solidly in the “good” range of well below 50 on the Air Quality Index.  Honolulu had a reading of 19 – Hilo had a reading of 5.