Beijing has responded to the extremely high levels of air pollutants in its major cities by pointing its finger at factories. Yet in a report from last month China, albeit between the lines, admitted a much more disturbing and difficult reality: most of the pollution currently poisoning major cities such as Beijing is largely caused by the use of coal as a domestic fuel, especially in the low-income outskirts of the cities. The Chinese government had already launched a plan in the year 2000 to reduce pollution produced by coal, disseminating electric heating thanks to tax incentives. Over the next 16 years, at least 310,000 homes in the center of Beijing converted to less polluting forms of heating. The result, however, is modest, since the central district of the capital occupies only 5% of the urban area and is home to 1/10 of the total city population. Moreover, the incentives system does not apply to the areas that need it the most: the low-income rural outskirts of the capital, which have become dormitories for low-income workers who work in the city during the day. The problem, however, is difficult to solve due to the link between an ill-conceived incentives system and speculative aims concerning the rural areas surrounding major cities, always at risk of intensive real estate development.