Hold China accountableThe air quality in Seoul on Tuesday morning was the second worst in the world after New Delhi according to a Real-Time Air Quality Index Visual Map that measures toxin levels including particulate matters, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and black carbon in 60 countries. The data may not be entirely accurate and objective, but nevertheless raises alarm for Koreans who must endure fine dust every spring.
According to the Environment Ministry, 70 to 80 percent of fine dust that pollutes the spring air arrives from China. It increases by 30 percent to 50 percent during the spring due to seasonal winds that turn westbound. The ministry must speak bluntly to China to demand action. Environmental issues do not just involve individual countries, but the entire global community.
But domestic factors also contribute to the poor air condition. The government has been working on research and development to protect the air starting in June of last year. We cannot merely sit around waiting for China to do something.
The Environment Ministry should strengthen surveillance on pollutants from waste disposal sites. It must accelerate its campaign to increase carbon-free and eco-friendly cars to replace aging diesel vehicles. It must come up with incentives to speed up the transition and investment in clean energy.
Only after we have done all we can to clean up the energy can we demand strong actions from China. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman denied the country was to be blamed for smog damage to neighboring countries. The authorities must continue with efforts to gather scientific evidence pointing to Chinese pollutants.
JoongAng Ilbo, March 23, Page 30