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Blue skies are not an occasional luxury

China Daily | Updated: 2018-11-16 07:34
The Tianjin Eye, a city landmark, is enveloped in heavy fog on Nov 14, 2018. [Photo/IC]

BEIJING, TIANJIN AND HEBEI suffered from heavy air pollution from Tuesday to Thursday, with smog covering the whole region. Thepaper.cn comments:

One after another, people made bitter jokes about the smog, which has surprised people as such days seemed to belong to the past.

The number of smoggy days last year dropped by 18.1 days compared to in 2016, and many people, including many officials of the Beijing municipal government, said that the smog would no longer be as bad as it used to be.

The severe smog this time should teach everyone a lesson that poor air quality is still a big problem. According to reports, although there were adverse meteorological conditions, the main causes of the smog were the high industrial and transportation emissions and construction dust compounded, by the winter heating being switched on.

Clearly air pollution is still a problem. In order to improve the air quality what is needed is continued efforts to upgrade the national economic structure, including eliminating the outdated industries, measures to strictly control construction dust and accelerating the use of more environmentally friendly forms of power generation than coal. There is no shortcut to clear skies.

But with China facing the pressure of slower economic growth, some are calling for highly polluting industries to be supported so as to boost GDP growth. That's the wrong choice. Environmental protection and economic growth are not incompatible with each other and both require the same approach of constantly upgrading the economy to put the country on a sustainable development path.

Curbing air pollution is a long-term process, and the corresponding environmental protection measures need to be sustained. There can be no tolerance for half measures or opportunistic tricks. It is necessary to completely change China's development model.

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