Chinese authorities have issued a "red alert" in Beijing, the highest air pollution warning level to signal that the city’s smog levels have reached critical.

On Monday, the Chinese capital announced that the city would be on a lockdown from Tuesday morning local time to midday on Thursday, in an attempt to protect citizens from the carcinogenic air. Factories and construction sites were ordered to close and schools were advised to shut down to protect children. Traffic will be monitored during the three-day period and most of the city’s cars will be forced off the roads in a bid to bring pollution levels down to sustainable levels.

The deadly smog in Beijing is said to be caused by the growing demand from the nation’s manufacturing and infrastructure sectors. As a result, China's fast-growing economy has constantly seen massive amounts of dust from construction sites lingering in the atmosphere. Coupled with its extreme humidity and low winds, the waste blankets Bejing in a metallic cloud of poison.

Over the weekend, Beijing’s real-time Air Quality Index showed areas of the city had more than 256 micrograms per cubic metres of noxious molecules. The World Health Organisation says any amount above 25 micrograms should be treated as unsafe.

China is the world’s largest contributor to greenhouse gasses and its code red alert comes after global carbon dioxide emissions remained stable for a second year in a row.

Professor of Climate Change Science and Policy at East Anglia University, Corinne Le Quéré says the two-year abnormal emissions growth may have only temporarily changed the path of global emissions.

“It is unlikely that emissions have peaked for good. This is because energy needs for growing economies still rely primarily on coal."

In comparison to an average yearly increase of 2 and 3 percent since 2000, global CO2 emissions in 2014 grew by only 0.6 percent.

Following these results from the Nature Climate Change and Earth System Science Data journals, the United States was named behind China as the world’s second biggest carbon emitter. The European Union followed suit in third place and India in fourth.

But in order to reach climate stabilization, especially in China, global emissions would need to decrease to near zero, according to Professor Le Quéré.

“We are still emitting massive amounts of CO2 annually, around 35 billion tonnes from fossil fuels and industry alone,” she said.

“There is still a long way to near zero emissions."

Contact the writer at, or let us know what you think below.