The outlook for Beijing's efforts to ensure blue skies looks gloomy following a report on the website of the city's environmental watchdog.
Up until the end of June, Beijing recorded 107 blue sky days, 10 days down from last year, Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau revealed.
This means the city will have to achieve a further 131 clear days during the second half of the year if it is to reach its target of 238.
The situation this year has not been helped by the severe sandstorms that swept through the city in the spring, Hu Tao said, an expert with Policy Research Centre under the State Environmental Protection Administration..
"Sandstorms have been the major killer for the environment. Besides this the recent smoke floating across the city was another problem."
Hu was referring to the heavy smoke and dust in late June that was generated by farmers in neighbouring Hebei Province burning straw.
Local people have felt the impact of the poor conditions.
Yi Xiaojun, 28, a private tutor, said: "It's really horrible when I see my car coated in a horrible yellow dust, which happened in April during the sandstorms."
"I really doubt that they'll be able to reach the target of 238 nice days this year."
The city is still struggling to reduce pollution caused by heavy industry, vehicle emissions and dust generated by thousands of construction sites.
Zhai Xiaohui, publicity official of the bureau, said yesterday that a large-scale coal-powered chemical plant will be moved out of Beijing by mid-July, part of the city's efforts to cut emission. However, she would not give any more details.
Hu Tao said Beijing needed to set up a mechanism with neighbouring provinces to better tackle problems.
"Accountability for pollution needs to be clear. If all problems are considered Beijing's responsibility, clear skies will remain a pipe dream."
(China Daily July 6, 2006)