Smog listing as 'meteorological disaster' causes controversy

BEIJING - Beijing's lawmakers are considering listing smog as a meteorological disaster in the drafting of an amendment, but the move has been questioned as smog is not seen as naturally occurring. 

The legal committee of the Beijing Municipal People's Congress said the draft is still under review. 

Wang Zifa, a researcher with the Institute of Atmospheric Physics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, was among a group of scholars raising doubts over the listing. 
Wang said man-made smog was a type of pollution hazardous to humans. 

The scholars said listing smog as a meteorological disaster could cause confusion and give polluters an excuse to evade their responsibilities. 

The legislative affairs office of the Beijing municipal government said smog is a composite phenomenon formed jointly by pollution and weather conditions. As smog has become a severe hazard, the legislation would help push for cross-sector government efforts in disaster control and improve public awareness. 

The municipal legislature started work on the drafted revision in May. The second clause of drafts says that once smog is listed as a meteorological disaster, the city must take a series of emergency measures in smoggy weather, including traffic control as well as work and school suspension. 

The legislature said the amendment is a local regulation on disaster reduction and control, with the government ultimately liable. 

Chang Jiwen, an environmental policy advisor with the State Council Development Research Center, suggested smog be put into a regulation on atmospheric pollution control, rather than as a meteorological disaster. 

Beijing's average density of hazardous fine particulate matter from January to October was 64 micrograms per cubic meter, an annual decrease of 8.6 percent, according to the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau. 

The capital had 172 days with good air quality during the ten months, 11 more than the same period last year.


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