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New fund will pay for research on smog

By Zheng Jinran | China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-16 07:53

A new fund will be set up to pool the knowledge of the country's top scientists to discover the "unique" cause of smog that frequently blankets northern China in winter, Premier Li Keqiang announced Wednesday.

"Blue skies will not be, and should not be, a luxury," he said at a news conference on Wednesday at the end of the annual two sessions.

The premier highlighted the government's increasing financial support for smog-related research, aiming to tackle the air pollution more effectively, after some scientists pointed out that the causes of smog in northern regions in winter are unique in the world.

Zhou Weijian, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and environmental expert, said there is little domestic research on the severe smog events, which are widespread and long lasting in northern regions in winter.

The smog has complicated components, of which 60 to 70 percent are secondary pollutants generated after chemical reactions, Zhou said on March 9, when Li attended a panel discussion with lawmakers from Shaanxi province during the annual session of the National People's Congress, the top legislature.

"We found the nitrogen oxides in the air could form sulfates, thus worsening the air pollution," she said. "It means controls on the use of nitrogen fertilizer in North China would work for air pollution controls."

The premier said such research results deserve more attention, and encouraged more research on smog to dig out the causes.

On Wednesday, Li said the government is determined to spend as much as needed for the research. He pledged that the country will fight and win the battle against smog, although it will be a long process.

NPC deputies also suggested during the annual session that more funds be allocated to support smog research.

Jin Baofang, a deputy from Hebei province, said the central government needs to allocate more resources for air pollution control measures including research in Hebei, which is frequently hit by smog.

Targeted efforts based on thorough research could speed up the pollution control process, he said.

The central government also will continue to increase regular funds for air pollution control efforts and tighten supervision over their use, Ou Wenhan, spokesman for the Ministry of Finance, said on March 8.

The ministry allocated 10.6 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) to aid smog control efforts last year.

A new fund for smog research is not included in that amount.

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