Chinese netizens look to London for solution to smog problem

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 January, 2013, 11:49am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 January, 2013, 1:06pm

Beijing’s worst smog in decades has many Chinese people worried and searching for answers.

Some have turned to Britain's past experience in dealing with the problem. The United Kingdom introduced tough measures to control smog in the 1950s.

“What did London do to get rid of their notorious smog?”, asked a frustrated Chinese blogger on Sina Weibo, China’s twitter-like service.

The British Embassy in Beijing responded by posting an article by John Ross, former Deputy Mayor of London, who briefly explained what happened during and after London's terrible problems with smog in 1952, which claimed  4,000 to 6,000 lives.

“A special act regulating pollution in London became law in 1954, and in 1956 the UK-wide Clean Air Act was passed. These banned many smoke-emitting fuels, raised the minimum permissible heights of industrial chimneys, re-located power stations away from cities and so on,” the post read.

Disappointingly for many Chinese, London didn't seem to have a quick fix for China.  

Ross noted this less comforting conlusion:" First, the UK paid a great price for its industrialisation, as has China. In both countries, people were lifted out of poverty, but at the cost of immense environmental damage. Second, in the UK it was possible to reverse the fundamental consequences of this over one to two decades."

But the British embassy's efforts to communicate with Chinese netizens was widely appluded.

“I was in London last year, the air was clean and sky blue,” commented a netizen, “we should learn from their success.”

“It’s more terrible to hide a mistake than to make one,” said another netizen.