Paris 2015

Beijing's air pollution helps underline messages of Paris' COP21 summit

Janine Tan | Special to CNBC
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Environmental activists could not have planned it better. As if to underline the importance of the COP21 climate change conference underway in Paris, the capital of the world's most populous country, China, spent much of the week choked by heavy smog.

"The Paris conference is not the finishing line but a new starting point," President Xi Jinping told world leaders in Paris on Monday. "Tackling climate change is a shared mission for mankind." His citizens have responded with a barrage of Weibo posts noting that, had the conference been held in the Chinese capital, the mission may have been treated more urgently.

Click ahead to see how air pollution created by 30 years of unchecked industrial activity has left Beijing under a dark and poisonous cloud.

—By Janine Tan | Special to CNBC
Posted 02 December 2015

Smog in China
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A plane descends above a parking lot to land at the Beijing Capital International Airport on December 1.

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A man wearing face masks takes a selfie in Sanlitun, Beijing on November 30.

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A citizen checks the pollution index on November 30 in heavy smog near National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing. Air pollution reached 'hazardous' levels in the capital on Monday.

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Chinese citizens are seen walking in the streets of Beijing without proper masks as smog blanketed the city on November 30.

China has been clamping down on the use of dirty coal since 2013 in a bid to clean up air quality.
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A resident rides an electric bicycle next to a statue of pandas, a landmark of the Wangjing area in Beijing, on December 1.

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A woman wearing a mask practices rollerblading at Olympic Park in Beijing during heavy smog on Tuesday.

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A girl wearing a protective mask waves the Chinese flag after visiting the Forbidden City yesterday.