Smog to loom large over two sessions

Updated: 2014-02-25 00:48

By Wu Wencong (China Daily)

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Smog to loom large over two sessions

Tourists from Sichuan province brave heavy smog on Monday to fly a kite near the National Stadium. The haze is likely to continue in Beijing this week. Air pollution is likely to be hot topic during the upcoming two sessions in Beijing next month. Zhang Wei / China Daily

Environmental issues, especially the nation's problems with smog, will be a major focus at the upcoming plenary sessions of the National People's Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, according to officials who are busy preparing legislative proposals for the annual meetings.

"I am working on economic and technical proposals that will implement the clean burning of coal, which will help solve our smog problem," said Cao Xianghong, a petrochemical expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

The proposal by Cao, a member of the National Committee of the CPPCC, will suggest that the task of burning coal fall more heavily on large enterprises instead of individual households in order for the government to better manage emissions.

Yao Tandong, who last year recited a poem to President Xi Jinping during the two sessions to poke fun at the heavy smog, said his proposals will likely be about pollution. Yao is the director of the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research and a member of the National Committee of the CPPCC.

Chai Fahe, vice-president of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, said airborne pollution will be a hot issue at the two sessions for years to come. Chai added that several legislators have inquired into the latest draft of the nation's Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act that will be submitted to the NPC at the two sessions.

"The revision of the act will be a major discussion point at this year's two sessions," he said.

"The legislators' proposals will mainly focus on three aspects: to accelerate the revision process; to clarify the responsibilities of local governments and polluters, which includes strengthening penalties; and to enhance the management on mobile pollution sources."

Chai said many legislators will likely bring up the public's heightened expectations of cleaner air as China releases its Airborne Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan (2013-17) on the national level and as local governments create anti-pollution action plans.

Leading up to the two sessions, combating smog was a top priority at many provincial legislative sessions in January and February.

Last month, Beijing passed an airborne pollution prevention law that sets a pollution reduction target. The regulation provides a general framework for action that will be augmented by detailed directives to be published soon. It will take effect on March 1.

With many legislators focusing on battling smog, others said they will focus on other environmental issues, such as water pollution and ecological security.

"I've already known enough deputies who are preparing to bring up smog in their proposals," said Gao Jixi, director of the ecology institute of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences.

He said he is working on a proposal about how to manage nature reserves to build an ecological network.

Gao, who is also a member of the CPPCC, said he may also raise another proposal that tackles environmental problems during the process of urbanization.

Thick smog has enveloped northern China for the past five days, affecting more than one million square kilometers of the country.