Bal­anc­ing act be­tween econ­omy and en­vi­ron­ment

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Views -

Over the week­end, the Bei­jing-Tian­jin-He­bei re­gion in North China, known as Jing-Jin-Ji, saw the resur­gence of alarm­ing air pol­lu­tion, with some fore­cast say­ing heavy smog could be on the way.

We have ex­pe­ri­enced rel­a­tively “clean blue sky” since last win­ter, com­pared with two or more years ago when the air qual­ity in­dex at times crossed 500.

In re­cent years, the strong pub­lic re­ac­tion to poor air qual­ity re­flects the in­creas­ing pub­lic aware­ness about the harm caused by air pol­lu­tion and peo­ple’s de­mand for “blue sky”. The same was ev­i­dent this month when fore­casts sig­naled the re­turn of smog.

But the air qual­ity has not wors­ened for no rea­son. Ac­cord­ing to ex­perts, the sur­round­ing ar­eas of Bei­jing are still home to many highly pol­lut­ing in­dus­tries such as coal power plants, iron and steel fac­to­ries, as well as chem­i­cal plants. Mo­tor ve­hi­cles, par­tic­u­larly heavy trucks run­ning on diesel, are also a ma­jor source of pol­lu­tants. Statis­tics show that sul­fur diox­ide (SO2) emis­sion in­ten­sity in Jing-Jin-Ji is 3.6 times higher than the na­tional av­er­age, while that of ni­tro­gen ox­ides (NOX) is four times higher.

In win­ter, the heat­ing sup­ply, coal burn­ing of house­holds and sea­sonal stalk burn­ing in Bei­jing and its sur­round­ing ar­eas emit tons of pol­lu­tants re­sult­ing in the re­turn of smog. In Bei­jing, ac­cord­ing to the Bei­jing mu­nic­i­pal en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion bu­reau, mo­bile sources con­trib­uted 45 per­cent of lo­cal PM2.5 in 2017.

Over last few years, the gov­ern­ments at the na­tional and lo­cal lev­els have taken very ac­tive mea­sures to clean the air and have achieved suc­cess. The most pro-ac­tive mea­sure is the na­tion­wide en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion in­spec­tion launched by the Min­istry of Ecol­ogy and En­vi­ron­ment.

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