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The Policy for Fine Dust in Seoul: Was This the Best We Could Do?
Pyun Do-young  |  dpyun@cau.ac.kr
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승인 2018.05.08  20:20:38
트위터 페이스북 미투데이 요즘 네이버 구글 msn
Seoul City sent a natural disaster SMS to all citizens living in Seoul on January 16th, 2018. The SMS was sent to notify the citizens that all public transportation will be free of charge during commuting times on the next day, January 17th. The same SMS was sent on the 17th saying that this will be applied on the 18th as well. Citizens soon found out that public transportation was free during commuting times on the 16th without any announcements beforehand. For three days, Seoul City didn’t charge citizens for using public transportation during commuting hours. The main purpose for this policy was to reduce the concentration of fine dust and to cleanse the air. However, simply exempting public transportations fees doesn’t bring meaningful changes. Fine dust covers a vast amount of area and the volume that it takes up is astronomical. This calls for detailed and accurate solutions that pinpoint the root cause of fine dust. However, the policy that Seoul City chose was hasty, and didn’t solve anything To start off, exemption of public transportation fees doesn’t bring about change in the use of transportation methods. The fee of using public transportations is 500 won, per round trip. Using public transportation only to save 2500 won, which is a relatively cheap price, isn’t worth all the dust one has to take in while walking to bus stops and subway stations. To make situations worse, carpooling applications such as “Poolus” used the harsh weather conditions and offered their carpooling service for half price for exactly 2 days, the 17th and 18th. Such carpooling services pick up their customers where they want and take them to their destination via the shortest route. On the other hand, public transportation doesn’t take citizens to their destinations directly. Citizens took all of these situations into consideration, and decided to live as they used to. The major purpose of enacting this policy was to reduce the car usage rate in Seoul. However, the reduction rate was extremely low, recording only 1.7%. This is lower than the reduction rate when enacting the “alternative-day-no-driving system,” where citizens are prohibited from using their cars depending on the day of the week and the last number of their cars’ license plate numbers. Also, considering that the reduction rate of vehicle usage was only 2%, this policy is obviously a failure. Second, the exemption of public transportation fees doesn’t bring meaningful changes to the concentration of dust. According to Professor Chang Jae-yeon of Ajou University, the main cause of high concentrations of fine dust is due to the congested atmosphere above Seoul. The premise of this policy was that the main cause of high fine dust concentrations is China. The idea was to minimize the dust we emit while the dust from China passes by, which will naturally lead to lowering the concentration levels. This is where everything gets messed up. No matter how much we reduce the dust we emit, the air is congested. This means that the air is going nowhere, and because dust moves with the air current, the dust stays too. Also, another problem of this policy is that it was limited to a certain time, and limited to a certain area. During the three days when this policy was enacted, the concentration levels were high all day. Encouraging the use of public transportation for only six hours a day won’t make much change when the dust is with us all day. To add on, fine dust covers a massive area. Changing Seoul alone won’t change anything. Lastly, the costs were too expensive considering the small effects the policy brought. Enacting this policy for one day costs 5 billion won. This policy lasted for three days, which means Seoul City used 15 billion won. The budget for natural disasters for one year is 25 billion won. Seoul City used over half of that budget in January. There are still 11 months left on the calendar, but over half the budget is gone. Some say that there was change and effects brought in from this policy, but the numbers are in the error range, which isn’t worth that much money. Exemption of public transportation fees doesn’t fulfill the purpose of reducing fine dust. This incident must act as a lesson for future disasters that might occur. Finding the root cause and making solutions that exactly pinpoint the problems must be made instead of making useless plans. Also, because fine dust is made up of human-made particles, the national government should take measures to reduce environmental pollutants, which can reduce fine dust in the long run.< 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >
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