The turret of the Palace Museum in Beijing is seen in a clear day on Nov 22, 2017. [Photo/IC]
Northern China has long been plagued by smoggy weather, especially in winter when heating is supplied, and they have a deep longing for cleaner air. That explains why residents in the region have warmly welcomed the top authorities’ promotion of natural gas as a substitute for coal.
And residents in smog-prone northern China have seen more bluesky days and breathed cleaner air as a result of these efforts.
However, there have also been reports that insufficient natural gas supplies have left some residents without any heating this winter.
In Hebei province, where residents have long burned coal for heating during the winter months, the authorities have issued a province-wide orange alert for supplies of natural gas, such is the insufficiency of supply. The province reportedly now suffers a supply gap of 10 to 20 percent, and this is believed to have considerably compromised its normal economic operations.
Enterprises and the local economy are not alone in suffering from the shortage, as some households whose previous coal-fueled heating facilities were changed to gas-fueled ones are also feeling the effects of the supply shortage.
By advancing the replacement of coal with cleaner natural gas, the authorities have good intentions and have taken practical steps to improve the environment, but such a well-devised measure should not be at the cost of some people’s well-being and at the risk of their health.
Any measures to run after a “blue sky”, including the “gas-replacing-coal” campaign some local governments have launched, should fully consider residents’ needs and be tailored to local conditions. They should not be advanced using a one-size-fits-all approach.