Beijing may list smog as a disaster

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 a draft bill 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 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 city 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.

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.

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