By Paul Chung
Image credit: @vettloffah.
Just imagine a day when you leave your front doorstep and your favorite street vendor is no longer there to sell you lamb skewers or stinky tofu. The air is quite fresh but the street is unusually quiet.
After mulling a firework ban ahead of this year’s Spring Festival, the government is reportedly looking to find other ways to combat alarming air pollution in China’s urban areas (except, obviously, stricter regulations on state owned industry).
In the draft guidelines recently released by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, “barbecue-related activities” are held up as partly to blame for the air pollution that has engulfed major Chinese cities in the last few weeks. The agency has encouraged these major cities to adopt a ban on outdoor grilling, which would cut the amount of pollutants emitted into the atmosphere.
The attempt to ban barbecuing seems accordant with the government’s effort to cut back on PM2.5, tiny airborne particulates, which pose significant long-term health risks. Spring Festival fireworks are attributable for much of the PM2.5 increases in recent weeks, like in Shanghai where the PM2.5 air quality reading worsened during the holiday season.
Vehicle emissions, the single greatest source of PM2.5 pollutants, are apparently not as pressing a concern for the authorities as barbecues.