The Korea Herald


Experts urge regional efforts to tackle fine dust with China in front

By Lim Jeong-yeo

Published : Nov. 24, 2016 - 14:14

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Experts stressed the importance of regional cooperation in eradicating air pollution Thursday, also calling for a binding pact that will require each and every country in Northeast Asia to do their utmost.

In an international seminar hosted by the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI), experts from South Korea, Japan and China also highlighted a need to have China involved in such joint efforts, noting air pollution has no boundaries.

"South Korea's government and business community will do their utmost to reduce fine dust, but efforts by one country will have limits as fine dust travels thousands of kilometers across borders," Im Sang-hyug, an FKI official, said in an opening speech at the seminar, attended by some 60 officials and experts.

Song Cheol-han, a professor from South Korea's Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, agreed, saying the inflow of fine dust and other pollutants account for a large portion of air pollution in each country.

"Controlling local sources of pollution, such as power plants and automobiles, is a must in reducing fine dust, but past observations have shown that controlling the amount of pollution coming from other countries cannot be ignored either," he said.

"Without international efforts, involving China, the government's aim to reduce the country's level of fine dust to those of London or Paris over the next 10 years will not be easy to achieve," the professor added.

Under special measures announced in June, the Seoul government said it will seek to reduce the average level of fine dust from the current 23 micrograms per cubic meter to less than 18 micrograms per cubic meter by 2026.

Kim Cheol, a professor from the China University of Political Science and Law, stressed the importance of trilateral cooperation between South Korea, Japan and China in reducing fine dust and air pollution in the region.

"In the short run, the three countries must actively utilize meetings of their environment ministers, and in the long run, they must consider signing the UN Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution" to help reduce fine dust, he said.

Yoon Soon-chang, a professor from Seoul National University, stressed a need to further expand regional efforts to include all Asian countries.

"Joint efforts of the three countries alone may not be enough to reduce the cross-border movement of fine dust, a reason we must work to reduce damage from air pollution through joint efforts of all of Asia," he told the meeting. "Also, we must ask China and India, the largest producers of fine dust in the region, to take swift and strong measures." (Yonhap)