With the most painful commute in the world, according to IBM's Commuter Pain Study, and frequent particulate matter levels six times higher than the daily limit recommended by the World Health Organization, Beijing seems in no danger from being described as a livable city. However, according to Zeng, the city's government has acknowledged the congestion and air pollution challenges that the city faces, and is taking concrete action to address them.
On air pollution, Zeng reports, "the Beijing municipal government lists curbing fine particle pollution as its top priority for 2012, ahead of housing, health and education...The city vows to slash PM 2.5 pollution by nearly 30 percent by 2020." Beijing is also planning to implement stricter vehicle emission standards this year.
To reduce congestion, the city is renewing driving restrictions tied to license plate numbers and is expanding the practice to government vehicles. Apparently the city is even planning to implement a rush hour congestion charge.
With its population expected to grow by more than 6 million by the end of the decade, much more work will need to be done to ease the pain of living in Beijing.