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

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend 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.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960s Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More