Beijing recently issued its first pollution “red alert” as heavy smog shrouded the capital city.
The index for PM2.5 or airborne particles hit nearly 300 micrograms per cubic meter.
Local schools were ordered closed, while companies were encouraged to adopt flexible working hours. Up to 30 percent of government vehicles were grounded.
The government also unveiled various measures to reduce outdoor activity.
The smog has affected the daily lives of local residents, threatening their health and well-being.
Fighting air pollution is now a top priority for the government, providing great investment opportunities.
The government said it would spend 770 billion yuan (US$119.7 billion) to help reduce coal consumption, vehicular traffic, industrial pollution and other sources of air pollution.
For sure, smog has been a long-time issue in China. But while the government has pledged to tackle the problem, little progress has been achieved so far. Local residents have been forced to help themselves.
Companies have used indoor air quality to lure talents. Pan Shiyi, chairman of SOHO China (00410.HK), has used his personal Weibo account to campaign for cleaner air.
The average household now considers the air purifier as a necessity like the refrigerator. Sales of air purifiers have doubled and even jumped threefold per year.
More companies have joined the air purifier business amid the robust demand. China Creative Home Group (01678.HK) is one such company.
China has been promoting electric cars for many years, but the market’s response remains lukewarm because of the limited number of charging facilities and high cost of the vehicle.
The technology finds increasing use in the bus industry. Individual car owners have also started switching to electric cars, which are not affected by restrictions on traditional cars.
For example, electric car owners don’t have to go through the usual lottery process to get a license plate. They also don’t have travel restrictions.
BYD (01211.HK) dealers said inquiries about its pure-electric model e6 have increased 8 to 9 percent recently.
Officials of the new energy unit of BAIC Motor Corp. also said monthly sales of its pure electric cars increased from 1,500 to 2,300 units in September and even reached 3,100 in November.
Pure electric car sales jumped nearly four times to 113,800 units in the first 10 months of this year.
In fact, China may replace the United States as the world’s largest electric car market this year.
Hong Kong investors probably don’t give much importance to the smog situation in the mainland; pollution-related stocks have yet to attract speculation.
In the mainland, however, such stocks are being chased by investors. Such stocks include companies selling air purifiers, electric cars, hygiene masks, exhaust gas treatment devices, etc.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec. 11.
Translation by Julie Zhu
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