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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees 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.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

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