The Chinese leadership is now promising “to make our skies blue again” in a popular move to address an issue that has given rise to public protests across China against the industrial smog that blights so many cities. The solution to a pressing economic problem is now linked to an emotive popular issue. The pollution is the result of coal burning by heavy industry, the very sector that is weighed down by excess capacity and debt, which threaten China’s economic survival. The government needs this sector to cut debt and capacity but they have encountered resistance from local governments and vested interests. Environmental reasons have been used before by central government as a tool to push through change. Now they appear to be leading with it.