The National Climate and Environment Council comes up with measures to control fine dust during Dec.-March period, which also includes banning old cars from streets on alternative basis
Chairman Ban Ki-moon of the National Climate and Environmental Council who is formerly Sec.-Gen of the United Nations. (Photo: NCEC)
The government has decided to suspend the operation of up to 27 coal-fired power plants during the December-March period when high-density fine dust usually blankets the country.
The National Climate and Environment Council, headed by former U.N. Sec.-Gen. Ban Ki-moon, recommended the measures to the government on Sept. 30.
The plan also includes banning old cars from the streets during the period and allowing only vehicles in one of the two divisions on streets when high-density fine dust clouds the country.
The council operating directly under the Presidential Office came up with the measures hammered out by some 130 experts and 500 people from various civilian weather control related organizations around the country for 5 months to solve the fine dust problems under the leadership of the former top U.N official.
The core of the measures is aimed at controlling fine dust produced by industry, power plants and transportation. From December to February, from 9 to 14 coal-fired power plants will be either suspended as the electricity demand for heating reaches its peak, while 27 coal-fired power plants will be suspended until March, when the fine dust is the heaviest.
The rest of the coal-burning power plants will be required to turn out only 80 percent of their power output capacity.
The measures will ultimately require boosting the electricity bills as LNG power plants would have to be put into service in place of the suspended coal-burning power plants. For a family of four, they would have to pay 1,200 won more on average per bill during the four-month period. Nuclear power plants are more inexpensive to run, but they have to operate the LNG power plants for obvious reasons.
Chairman Ban said the financial burdens on the people are not small, but moves have to be made now or it will be costlier in the future due to boosts in the economic and social expenses. “I would appreciate very much that the people decided to persevere the suffering now rather than later,” the chairman said.
The measures fall short of moves to take care of fine dust coming from China, except to say that the two neighboring countries would make efforts to sign the “Korea-China Blue Sky Partnership.”
Chairman Ahn Byung-wook of the Management Committee of the National Weather Environment Council, said Korea has to share the experiences for the fine dust problems with China to find solutions to the problems as soon as possible.
The National Climate and Environmental Council under direct control of the President has been launched to deal with fine dust.
The Council will take the role of proposing fundamental solutions by reviewing fine dust issues that are reaching social disaster levels from the public's perspective.
It will also actively seek ways to cooperate with countries in Northeast Asia that are suffering from fine dust issues.
Ban Ki-moon, the 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations, will head the National Climate and Environment Council, and 42 members representing political parties, industry, academia, civil society, religion, government and local government will participate in the Council.
In particular, seven citizens representing various classes, including elementary school principals, small business owners, regular outdoor workers and rural village representatives, will also be included in the Council to reflect the voices of citizens suffering from fine dust and to identify measures to reduce them in real life.
Analysts at South Korea’s National Institute of Environmental Research (NIER) have tentatively concluded that the high-density particulate matter, also known as fine dust, that blanketed the capital region between Jan. 16 and 18 was more influenced by domestic factors than foreign factors.
This contradicts the widespread view that high-density fine dust originates in China.