Environmental police deployed in Beijing to tackle ongoing smog problem

A new environmental police squad is being unleashed in Beijing in a bid to tackle the city's ongoing smog problem.

Authorities will temporarily clamp down on open-air barbecues, garbage incineration and illegal wood burning to tackle China's chronic pollution.

China's capital and many other cities have been living under blankets of thick gray haze in recent weeks, with pollution levels regularly exceeding World Health Organisation guidelines.

Last week, more than 20 cities were on "red alert," the highest warning level in China's four-tiered system, while Beijing was on the second-highest "orange alert."

Now the East Asian country's government has introduced a new environmental police force as part of measures to tackle the problem.

A new environmental police force has been introduced in Beijing Credit: PA

On Saturday, Beijing's actor mayor said the force would target barbecues and forms of illegal burning.

Other measures include cutting the use of coal by 30% in 2017, shutting down 500 higher-polluting factories and upgrading 2,500 more.

About 300,000 high-pollution vehicles will also be restricted from entering the capital starting next month, Cai Qi said.

Cai has blamed polluting activities like burning garbage or wood on "the result of lax supervision and weak law enforcement."

The resulting smog has in the past caused the closure of schools and businesses, flight cancellations and shutdown of motorways across China.

During a red alert in Beijing last month, authorities banned construction crews from spray-painting and even seized charcoal grills from restaurants.