News / Asia

Smog Stokes China Pollution Debate

William Ide
Large parts of China were blanketed by smog this week as choking pollution loomed well above levels considered healthy. The long stretch of polluted days has intensified the debate in cities such as Beijing over just what can be done to clear the air.

For many in China, pollution in January was miserable.  Tiny hazardous pollutant particles in the air, or PM 2.5, reached unhealthy levels for long stretches. During the last week of the month, smog hung over cities and towns from Liaoning in the north to as far south as Guangdong.

Polluting industries, construction and the widespread use of coal for heat were blamed. Authorities said the weather made the situation worse. But increased attention is also being directed at cars, especially in cities such as Beijing where the number of automobiles has grown explosively in recent years.

In Beijing, the government already restricts drivers of private automobiles from using their cars at least one day every week, but some say that is not enough.

Xu Yuan, 31, who works in retail says it’s reasonable for the government to consider more restrictions.

Xu says that while this might make it less convenient for some people when they go out, more restrictions would be better on the whole for the environment.

Those who drive, however, have a different view.

Partial solution

A woman wearing a mask walks on a heavy haze day during winter in Beijing January 29, 2013.A woman wearing a mask walks on a heavy haze day during winter in Beijing January 29, 2013.
x
A woman wearing a mask walks on a heavy haze day during winter in Beijing January 29, 2013.
A woman wearing a mask walks on a heavy haze day during winter in Beijing January 29, 2013.
One man surnamed Wang says restrictions on car use are only part of the solution.

Wang says factories around Beijing and construction in the city are also part of the problem. He says that while cars are perhaps the easiest part of the equation to handle, more should be done to address the issue of industrial pollution.

Wang Bing also relies heavily on his car for transportation. He says that having even more restrictions would be tough because car driving for many is a habit.

Wang says not only would restrictions make transportation more difficult, they would make people feel like they do not have legs because cars have become people’s legs.

To try and rein in China’s smog, the government has begun requiring a 30 percent cutback in the use of public vehicles on days when pollution levels are bad.

Violations

Beijing journalists found that despite the requirement, many violated orders to not drive public vehicles when the pollution was peaking. According to a report in the Beijing Youth Daily, while some 8,000 vehicles were supposed to be banned from use, nearly 900 drivers ignored those orders.

Pan Xiaochuan, a professor at the Beijing University School of Public Health, says there are some basic measures that could help limit pollution from cars.

Pan says that authorities could seek to lower emissions from cars by raising standards, and that raising the quality of fuel could help.

Fuel quality

Some argue that low-quality fuel in China, containing high amounts of sulfur, is part of the country’s pollution problem. But improving the quality of fuel carries downsides in China, where cheap energy remains a priority.

Pan says that if efforts were made to improve the quality of fuel, prices would most likely go up and that is something that would take some time for the public to accept.

Analysts say that in addition to addressing the issue of fuel quality and inspection standards for cars, doing more to address the problem of traffic congestion in cities such as Beijing is also crucial. They note that when cars are backed up in traffic jams and moving at a slower pace they create five to 10 times more pollution.

RELATED VIDEO: China Experiments with Carbon Trading

You May Like

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Nigerians Await New President With High Hopes

When pomp and circumstance of inauguration end in Abuja, Buhari will sit down to the hard task of governing Nigeria More

India's Restrictions on Several NGOs Raise Concerns

Political analysts link recent clampdown on advocacy groups to report last year that said foreign-funded NGO’s negatively impact economic development More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: balij from: USA
February 03, 2013 3:17 AM
I recently read an Article about How some china entrepreneurs are cashing in on air pollution and I was very surprised , More about that article is on

http://wallstnews.blogspot.com/p/asia-edge.html

by: jason from: IL
February 01, 2013 2:29 PM
I will buy a car powered by electricity in China.

by: Jonah from: US
February 01, 2013 12:15 PM
This would be a good time to move toward hydrogen fuel cell technology...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs