Co­or­di­nated anti-smog ef­forts show worth

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - FOR THE FIRST TIME,

more than 60 cities in China’s north­ern re­gions jointly is­sued emer­gency re­sponses to the se­vere smog over the week­end, ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion. Bei­jing Youth Daily com­mented on Tues­day:

Al­beit a cold front with strong winds has dis­persed the smog and the joint re­sponse was a wel­come move, the en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion author­i­ties in the af­fected cities in seven prov­inces and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, in­clud­ing Bei­jing and Tian­jin as well as He­bei and Shan­dong prov­inces, still have im­por­tant lessons to learn in their joint ef­forts to deal with air­borne pol­lu­tion.

On the one hand, some en­ter­prises still sought to by­pass the re­stric­tions on op­er­a­tions im­posed by the emer­gency re­sponses, do­ing lit­tle to con­trol their emis­sions of pol­lu­tants even when the heavy smog ar­rived. And some lo­cal farm­ers con­tin­ued to burn straw, a tra­di­tional, yet an en­vi­ron­men­tally un­friendly way of dis­pos­ing of it af­ter au­tumn har­vest, al­though they had been in­structed not to do so. They ought to be held ac­count­able for dis­miss­ing rel­e­vant re­stric­tions.

On the other hand, the joint smog-re­lated alerts in which 24 cities is­sued orange alerts, 22 is­sued yel­low alerts and the oth­ers is­sued blue alerts, did have an ef­fect and are worth pro­mot­ing.

This was in stark con­trast to these cities’ in­suf­fi­cient

prepa­ra­tions for the se­ri­ous air pol­lu­tion early last month. Pay­ing lit­tle at­ten­tion to the on­com­ing smog, some lo­cal gov­ern­ments in North China ei­ther failed to is­sue due emer­gency plans or only be­gan act­ing when it was too late. Some even re­frained from fully en­forc­ing the re­stric­tions on ma­jor pol­luters. The ter­ri­ble air pol­lu­tion lasted for days and sev­eral gov­ern­ments were given a stern warn­ing.

This time it was dif­fer­ent. Apart from urg­ing cross­re­gion emer­gency re­sponses, the en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion min­istry sent four in­spec­tion teams to He­bei and Shan­dong prov­inces to make sure all the emer­gency plans were car­ried out as de­signed. These co­or­di­nated, timely ef­forts have paid off in re­duc­ing air pol­lu­tion.

That best jus­ti­fies the role of the in­sti­tu­tion­al­ized anti-smog co­op­er­a­tion es­pe­cially in the Bei­jing-Tian­jin-He­bei re­gion, which has been listed as one of the zones with se­vere air pol­lu­tion among re­gions from North Africa to East Asia. More has to be done to tighten the re­stric­tions on emis­sions and pro­mote joint en­force­ment.

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