Opinion / Editorials

For cleaner air

(China Daily) Updated: 2013-01-17 08:14

After the days of stifling smog that have shrouded Beijing and many other cities across China's eastern and central regions, a ray of sunshine emerged in the capital on Wednesday with cold winds clearing the air.

While rushing out to inhale the fresh air after days of confinement indoors, we should not forget our long-term role in improving the air quality and protecting the fragile environment.

Our joint efforts will be a positive response to Vice-Premier Li Keqiang's remarks on Tuesday that China's air pollution treatment will be a long process that needs the participation of everybody.

As the first top Party official to address air pollution after the horrible hazy weather that extended across a wide swathe of China's territory, Li said China must change its economic growth mode and eliminate backward production that harms its ecology. While vowing to strengthen the enforcement of environmental protection laws, he also called on people to raise their environmental awareness, refrain from depletive consumption and participate in joint actions for a better environment.

Li's remarks point to the crux of the country's deteriorating environment and a crucial aspect of a workable solution.

China's quantity-first economic development model has helped it achieve two-digit economic growth over the past decades, but at the cost of resources, environment and people's health. According to a report co-published by the Asian Development Bank and some Chinese scholars on Monday, seven of the world's 10 most heavily polluted cities are located in China. It also said fewer than five of China's 500 cities have reached the World Health Organization standards for air quality.

The latest widespread smog sounds the alarm that the country must take effective and immediate measures to curb air pollution and environmental deterioration. It also highlights that the country should not delay in its bid to forgo its gross domestic product-obsessed economic development model and really develop itself into a green and environment-friendly economy.

To contribute to environmental protection, the government should reduce the use of government vehicles. Individuals, for their part, should try to cultivate stronger environmental awareness and choose green transport as much as possible in their daily lives. This is our concrete and direct contribution to better air quality.

(China Daily 01/17/2013 page8)

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