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Seeing cleaner path ahead

Updated: 2013-11-07 07:25
( China Daily)

Never have we been so shocked by the smog.

The air pollution that is choking an increasingly larger area, and even causing concern in neighboring countries, is something we all can see.

And sadly, the less we can see, the worse we can see it is.

When the northeastern city Harbin was shrouded in smog a week ago, visibility was down to about 10 meters and gauze masks were a necessity for local residents.

Seeing cleaner path ahead

A couple walk in Beijing on a hazy day, Nov 2, 2013. [Photo by Xu Jingxing / Asianewsphoto]

Although there is no confirmed correlation between the smog and cancer, an increasing number of lung cancer patients have been reported in many parts of the country in recent years.

The worsening air pollution is a threat to people's mental and physical health, Xie Zhenhua, deputy director of National Development and Reform Commission, admitted at a press conference on Tuesday.

Xie, who for a long time was the official in charge of environmental protection, attributed the air pollution to the country's obsolete development model, its unreasonable industrial and energy structure and the extensive discharge of pollutants by some companies.

He promised that China would considerably improve its air quality over the next 10 years as it addressed these issues and switched to a more sustainable development path.

Along with the State Council's action plan for air pollution control that was released in September, 35 measures will be adopted and specific tasks will be designated to specific region and working units, according to Xie. For example, Beijing will reduce the number of motor vehicle plates to be issued to 150,000 a year from the current 240,000 from next year.

However, to realize a cleaner development mode, the worsening air pollution must instill in decision-makers at all levels the urgency of adopting greener development policies for the future, as their way of thinking is key to cleaner air and better environmental health.

With urbanization becoming a major driver of economic growth, decision-makers need to consider carefully the environmental impacts when making their development decisions.

We hope that 10 years of efforts may prove sufficient to repay the debt we have built up to the environment over the past three decades. But will we then have to pay off a debt accumulated over the next 10 years?

(China Daily 11/07/2013 page8)