South Korea’s national assembly this week declared air pollution a “social disaster” and passed a set of bills on Wednesday, giving the government access to emergency funds to implement specific measures.
The eight new bills allow the government to tap into a 3 trillion won (US$2.65 billion) emergency fund and to launch countermeasures; among them, mandating that every school classroom should have an air purifier and removing limits on sales of liquified petroleum gas (LPG) vehicles, which were previously only available as taxis, rental cars and disabled drivers.
Seven major cities have been facing record-high levels of fine particulate pollution (PM2.5), prompting President Moon Jae-in to instruct government officials to speed up the retirement of old coal-burning power plants and to turn to the controversial measure of “cloud seeding” to help bring down air pollution in the capital earlier this month.
Other emergency measures Seoul introduced before turning to emergency measures include limiting vehicle use, limiting the use of coal-fired power stations and reducing the dust generated by building sites and power plants.
Banner photo by GothPhil/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0