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China's Air Pollution

From VOA Learning English, welcome to the Economics Report in Special English. China has been struggling to deal with record levels of smog over Beijing.

Recently, officials in several Chinese cities announced plans to trade carbon credits as a way to reduce air pollution. For many years, China considered economic growth more important than the environment. The nation remains hungry for energy. But it has also become the world's biggest producer of carbon gasses.

Beijing's smoggy days have made international news. Small particles in the air reduce visibility and threaten public health. Smog has been a concern in the city for years. But a sharp rise in pollution levels in January led to sharp criticism from many Chinese. Pollution from coal-burning power centers and factories is a big part of the problem.

Now, officials hope to control industrial air pollution by creating systems to trade carbon credits. The trading systems, or platforms, would enable companies to receive credits for lowering greenhouse gas emissions. The credits can then be traded. The goal of these market-based platforms is to get businesses to invest in clean technology. Markets for carbon credits are expected to open this year in seven cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin.

Officials say the government has decided to start with pilot programs because carbon trading is something new. China wants to launch a national carbon trading program by 2016. Still, public pressure continues building on the government to find an answer to thick air pollution. Wu Changhua is with The Climate Group. She says the Chinese people are looking at more than jobs. They want a better environment too.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Alex Villarreal. (Adapted from a radio program originally broadcast 8Feb2013)