China will ban all construction in Beijing for 4 months, starting on 12 November 2017, in an effort to cut the dangerous levels of toxic smog covering the city.
December 2016 saw air quality reach such dangerous levels people that were ordered to stay inside, schools were closed, flights cancelled and traffic restrictions imposed. With the first half of 2017 seeing no improvements, the government realised it needed to take drastic action, pledging to impose severe sanctions on those infringing the ban. While cement factories and major construction will cease, some social welfare projects, such as affordable housing, hospitals and railways, will be allowed to continue with special permits.
It is the most extensive effort of the Chinese government to cut air, soil and water pollution over a fixed term. The government has struggled for the past 4 years to take the necessary steps to protect the environment without too great an economic trade-off. It appears to mark a shift in Chinese policy towards more sustainable approaches to industry that take into consideration the social and environmental impacts.