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Why won't people give up driving in hazy weather?

(People's Daily Online)

07:44, January 17, 2013

Motorcars run on the Bayi Bridge amid heavy fog in Nanchang, capital of east China's Jiangxi Province, Jan. 14, 2013. Nanchang's air has been heavily polluted for five days in a row, according to local meteorological authorities. (Xinhua/Zhou Ke)

In the past few days, most areas of central and eastern China continued to experience dense fog which dragged the air quality down to "severe pollution" grade. Neither the timely release of pollution data by the relevant departments nor the proposal for the public to "avoid outdoor activities" provides a permanent cure. To truly realize the improvement of urban air quality, specific initiatives and intense intervention of relevant policies are needed. The public should also take action to reduce the haze.

But it is easier said than done. Take driving for example, one important factor that affects urban air quality is automobile exhaust pollution. Experiments show that a car driving at the speed of 20 kilometers per hour discharges twice the total amount of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons than a car running at 40 kilometers per hour, with increased fuel consumption, too. However, why are people still reluctant to give up driving a car?

This is because most people always tend to put off the responsibility to external factors. Another important reason is the social policies at large.

First, in deciding major industrial policies, some localities do not take into consideration of their impact to the environment. The automobile industry, for instance, had got support from many local governments.

Second, urban planning has made the workplaces highly concentrated, causing difficulties for commuters. Driving becomes their first choice because public transport and cycling are inconvenient.

Third, the behavior of the government agencies has a demonstrating and guiding effect. Government cars swagger through the streets and adversely guide the general mood of society.

We all have to breathe. Air quality is related to everyone's quality of life. Every citizen has unshirkable responsibility. But first, it seems that we have to build the institutional environment. Therefore the government cannot shirk its primary responsibility in coordinating natural environment with human habitat environment. It should take more stringent governance policies of atmospheric environmental quality and carry out scientific and rational planning of urban layout, rather than merely talking about it.

Read the Chinese version: 雾霾频发,人们为何不愿放弃开车. Source: WWW.CYOL.NET, Author: Hu Yinbin

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