Vice premier urges immediate action over smog crisis

By Yan Shuang Source:Global Times Published: 2013-1-16 1:18:01

China's Vice Premier Li Keqiang Tuesday urged environmental authorities to revamp air pollution control methods amid rising public concerns over the hazardous smog that has swept China's central and eastern region since last week.

Li said pollution was partially to blame for the lingering smog, but there were natural causes as well.

"We have to upgrade our extensive, inefficient means of production. Construction and consumption can not be realized at the cost of harming the ecosystem," Li said at a meeting on Tuesday, China National Radio reported.

It is necessary to release timely official PM2.5 (airborne smog particles less than 2.5 micrometer in diameters) data to the public, and the government should enhance environmental law enforcement and call for public participation to address environmental issues, Li said.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection on Monday ordered local governments to improve air quality monitoring and early warnings, and keep the public informed in relation to environmental information and data. The ministry called for greater efforts to control emissions from polluting industries and urged regional governmental cooperation on air pollution.

Choking smog has hit more than 30 Chinese cities since earlier this month, covering Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu and Anhui provinces. The National Meteorological Center has issued a yellow alert regarding smog in affected areas for three consecutive days since Sunday, as the Air Quality Index and PM2.5 readings reached record levels, especially in Beijing, where some areas saw the PM2.5 density reach 900 micrograms per cubic meter on Saturday.

A recent report jointly released by environmental experts from the World Resources Institute and the Asian Development Bank showed that China loses 1.2 percent of its GDP each year due to air pollution.

Seven Chinese cities, including Taiyuan, Beijing and Lanzhou are listed in the world's top 10 most polluted cities, the report said, and a growing demand for energy, an increasing number of motor vehicles and industrial expansion have endangered the environment and human health.

The smoggy weather will gradually dissipate as a cold spell is expected to hit the northern, central and eastern part of China over the following two days, said National Meteorological Center yesterday.

Li said the current problem has built up over a long time and it will take a long time to fix.


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