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Deputies to Shanghai's legislative meetings have appealed for "cold day allowances" to help residents keep warm in winter, amid public calls for government-backed heating services in a large swathe of South China.
Huang Chen, a deputy to Shanghai People's Congress, said that as the government cannot provide public heating service in winter, it can consider giving allowance to residents so that people can use air conditioning to keep warm.
He suggested families with elderly people at home, who need heating around the clock, should be given an allowance up to 880 yuan ($141) in winter.
For families with no members at home in the daytime, the government should give half of the allowance.
Shanghai cannot copy the central heating system model adopted in northern China because the city, with a marine climate, has a shorter period of time that needs heating in winter and doesn't have a central heating tradition, said Huang, deputy dean of University of Shanghai for Science and Technology's School of Environment and Architecture.
Also, the city has adopted a "ladder pricing" model for electricity since July – which charges families more if they consume a certain amount of energy, and the government can use the extra income from electricity fees to subsidize families, she added.
A proposal delivered by five members to the city's top advisory body also called for giving families a 50 percent discount to their electricity bills in December, which will lessen residents' financial burden when they have to turn on appliances such as air-conditioners and electric heaters to get warmth in winter.
Earlier this month, the Housing and Urban-Rural Development Ministry said it discouraged the heating model in northern China, featuring the use of coal and a highly centralized heating system, being adopted in the south.
Electricity and renewable energy-powered heating should be promoted in South China, the ministry said.