Opinion / Editorials

Smog alert puts health first

(China Daily) Updated: 2015-12-08 07:31

Smog alert puts health first

People enjoy the ice near the National Stadium, or "Bird's Nest", in Beijing under clear skies (left). By Sunday, the facility was shrouded in smog (right). GUO QIAN/CHINA DAILY

For the first time, Beijing issued a red alert on Monday warning people of severe smog in the coming days. This is also the first such red alert nationwide, and the capital has set a good example in this respect.

The action the municipal government has taken deserves to be applauded as it shows the authorities have listened to residents' concerns.

The local government was heavily criticized for not issuing such an alert during the severe smog a week ago, when particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 microns reached more than 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter in some parts of the city.

The red alert, which has warned of severe smog from Tuesday to Thursday, means vehicles will be restricted on the roads according to odd-and-even number of license plates. That means half the usual number of private vehicles will be off the roads during the period, which is expected to reduce the amount of exhaust emissions by about 25 percent. At the same time, 30 percent of government cars will not be used.

It also requires kindergartens, primary and middle schools to close, and some institutions and government departments can adopt flexible working hours or just let their staff do their work at home, which will hopefully reduce the pressure on public transport.

At a time when the country seems unable to reduce the pollutants emitted from factories and motor vehicles so as to prevent smog when the weather is damp and windless, it is important that local governments take such necessary actions.

Of course, we don't expect the frequent issuance of a red alert, and we hope that we will be able to forget about it in the near future when China's efforts to reduce the pollutants create a clean environment and keep the air clean for good.

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