Yesterday noon, Du Shaozhong, deputy director of the city's Ministry of Environmental Protection, announced that as of Nov 30, the city had reached its "blue sky" target for 2008. While we can quibble about what a "blue sky day" actually is - or even whether the official statistics have been fudged - any one who's been in Beijing during the post-Olympic period, knows that it's been a particularly pleasant autumn. By the end of November the city had recorded 256 "blue sky" days. Compare this to 1998 when the city could only achieve 100 days when the API fell below 100.
However, despite the introduction of less-severe traffic restrictions, December is probably not going to be a great month for blue skies. December is normally the worst time for Beijing's air quality, with Danwei reporting the index hitting 500 back in 2006 and in 2007 the index hit 421 in late December and then peaked at 500 a few days after Christmas.
Links and Sources
Xinhua: Beijing fulfils "blue sky" day goal one month in advance
Qianlong: 256个蓝天提前一月完成 空气质量10年持续改善
The New Republic: Is Beijing Fudging Its Pollution Numbers?
Beijing Air blog：Welcome semi-permanent traffic restrictions
NYTimes: Beijing’s Olympic Quest: Turn Smoggy Sky Blue (image)
The Beijinger: Blue Skies
The Beijinger: Emergency Air Quality Measures
The Beijinger: City announces new measures to ensure "blue skies" during Olympics
The Beijinger: View from the Top: Beijing's Highest Bar