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Beijing had four percent fewer heavy pollution days in 2014, just missing the target of five percent for the year, with 45 days considered to have the worst weather, Beijing's Environmental Monitoring Center reported Saturday.

The center did not indicate what the standard was for heavy pollution, but noted that June, August, and September had no such days in 2014. However, the standard is based on levels of Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5, which accounts for one-third of all Beijing pollution, the center said.

Beijing is attempting to reduce pollution in the city through a variety of measures, including limiting the number of cars that may be used on any given day, and continued closure or relocation of polluting industries.

The center blamed more than half of the pollution on the heaviest days on pollutants from nearby areas, including Hebei province.

The failure to meet the pollution reduction target will not be welcome news for Beijing residents, nor for potential visitors to the city. Beijing has seen a steady decline in the number of tourist arrivals in 2013 and 2014. Pollution is the main reason many would-be visitors cite for giving our fair city a miss. Air quality is also Beijing's biggest obstacle as it seeks to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

On Christmas Eve, Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun announced that he expects PM2.5 to fall a further five percent in 2015, aiming for an overall reduction of 25 percent between 2013 and 2017.

Photo: Global Sherpa

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