The fun­da­men­tal so­lu­tion to air pol­lu­tion is a change in peo­ple’s be­hav­ior.

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Views -

Fol­low­ing the “Air Pol­lu­tion Pre­ven­tion and Con­trol Ac­tion Plan”, which was in­tro­duced in 2013, and the “three-year ac­tion plan” pub­li­cized ear­lier this year, pol­lut­ing fac­to­ries have been shut down and coal burn­ing re­placed with gas or elec­tric­ity in many in­dus­tries. As a re­sult, the air qual­ity has im­proved a great deal in the key tar­geted ar­eas – Jing-Jin-Ji, and the Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta re­gions.

To sus­tain the suc­cess of the “bat­tle for blue sky”, we must un­der­stand the causes of the prob­lem. Ex­perts at home and abroad say fos­sil fu­els are the big­gest source of air pol­lu­tion, re­spon­si­ble for al­most all SO2 and NOX emis­sions and the source of 85 per­cent of par­tic­u­late mat­ter. Fos­sil fu­els ac­count for 86.7 per­cent of China’s en­ergy mix. Last year’s data show that the three big­gest con­sumers of fos­sil fu­els and thus the big­gest sources of air pol­lu­tion in China are in­dus­try (64.3 per­cent), build­ings (16.9 per­cent) and ve­hi­cles (15.3 per­cent).

Also, the six most pol­lu­tion-in­ten­sive in­dus­tries con­sume more than 50 per­cent of en­ergy. In the first three quar­ters of

2017, the build­ing ma­te­ri­als in­dus­try, power plants, iron and steel plants, and chem­i­cal fac­to­ries ac­counted for 85 per­cent of the to­tal coal con­sump­tion – and most of these in­dus­tries are as­so­ci­ated with the real es­tate sec­tor.

So the so­lu­tion to the prob­lem is to re­duce the con­sump­tion of fos­sil fu­els. For that, we need a struc­tural change in in­dus­tries, that is, a shift from fos­sil fuel-in­ten­sive busi­nesses to cleaner and greener busi­nesses. And more in­vest­ment should be made to de­velop re­new­able en­ergy and im­prove en­ergy ef­fi­ciency while sup­port­ing green de­vel­op­ment.

The de­mand for trans­port will con­tinue grow­ing. But we ex­pect tech­no­log­i­cal break­throughs to bring us the most ef­fec­tive so­lu­tion. In fact, slight changes in hu­man be­hav­ior will make a big dif­fer­ence. Proper ur­ban plan­ning can ef­fec­tively avoid un­nec­es­sary trans­port needs in cities. Shift­ing to pub­lic trans­port and non-mo­tor­ized trans­port from driv­ing pri­vate cars will re­duce fos­sil fuel con­sump­tion. The mul­ti­ple ben­e­fits of “avoid” and “shift” also in­clude less traf­fic con­ges­tion and im­proved pub­lic health.

The fun­da­men­tal so­lu­tion to air pol­lu­tion is a change in peo­ple’s be­hav­ior. En­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion is a self-serv­ing and self-sav­ing ac­tion.

The au­thor is chief rep­re­sen­ta­tive of World Re­sources In­sti­tute (USA) Bei­jing Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Of­fice.

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