Beijing needs detailed rules to fight smog

Updated: 2016-01-25 15:12

By Liu Wei(

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Greater clarity about smog alerts and more enforcement is needed to combat smog in Beijing, and to that end, municipal political advisers are making suggestions about fighting smog in their proposal during the city's local two sessions.

The members of the 12th Beijing Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), point out that the authorities need to take more specific control of forecast, analysis, supervision and punishment when dealing with air pollution.

Wang Yingchun, a CPPCC member and vice-chief of Beijing Meteorological Service, talked about her concern that people are confused about weather warnings and air pollution alerts.

"Sometimes people think 'heavy fog red alert' means heavy pollution. That's not correct," Wang said.

She said to improve efficiency, the Meteorological Service should focus on monitoring, forecasting and sending early warnings on air pollution while the Beijing Bureau of Environmental Protection needs to work on how to deal with the heavy pollution and come up with measures.

Currently, both authorities send out pollution alerts.

In December 2015, Beijing issued a red alert for smog two times. But the alerts failed to mark the most polluted days.

It made people confused about whether the alerts were accurate.

Wang said the Meteorological Service noticed the situation and it needs to be improved to better serve the people.

"We are all on the same page that fighting smog is a long-term job. People need to be patient with government efforts," said Wang.

Zhang Qiangbin, an environment expert at China University of Petroleum and a CPPCC member, is focusing on tracking pollution sources.

"The main polluters differ every day even though smog looks equally unhealthy on different days," Zhang said.

The government needs to do more specific research into finding out who are the different polluters that cause smog, so they can take effective action, he said.

Cui Tiening, another member and an associate professor at Beijing University of Technology, thinks it's very necessary to make clear the responsibilities of the government, companies and individuals in law.

Cui and Wang agreed that Beijing needs to make more detailed regulations and standards on fighting smog.

Whether the city can win the battle against the heavy haze depends on how well the law is put into practice.

Zhong Chonglei, chief of the supervision team of environmental protection in Beijing, said even though there are already some local regulations in place in Beijing, the plants that discharge the most pollution are relocating to neighboring provinces where the rules are not as strict. But the emissions still reach the heavily populated Beijing.

"Companies will transfer to neighboring places with less strict regulations or lower standards on pollution discharge. So setting unified standards and cooperating together to supervise and punish the polluters in surrounding areas like Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province are urgent and crucial," said Zhong.

He said the bureau is understaffed, with just about 400 employees monitoring emissions in the entire Beijing, which is 16 times bigger than Hong Kong in size.

Environmental protection is not just about what the government does but also how people adopt a new green lifestyle.

The members suggest city dwellers can participate in the hard battle fighting smog by changing a little habit like taking public transportation. Fireworks and charcoal barbecue should also be reduced to keep pollution down.

Big northern Chinese cities, such as Beijing, must fight pollution in whatever ways they can. Clean air is not a luxury, it is a necessity, and the smog should no longer be the most obvious conversation starter for Beijingers.