Following up on their recent ban of outdoor barbecues in Beijing, city officials have destroyed more than 300 of the outdoor eateries as part of a three-month long campaign to slash smog. The barbecues, which are a common feature across the city and a source of livelihood for many, have been blamed by officials to be a leading cause of harmful levels of pollution. But local citizens are ridiculing the exercise, suggesting authorities should focus on bigger sources of poor air quality – like coal, perhaps?
A media officer at Beijing’s Xicheng district administration bureau said the hundreds of barbecue grills were confiscated and cut up so they couldn’t be used again. She refused to give her name, as is common with Chinese officials. Compared with other measures such as a fuel pollution tax, emergency factory shutdowns during pollution spikes, and traffic limits, the decision to confiscate and cut up outdoor barbecues seems a bit like throwing water on a raging bush fire.
Environmental campaigner Ma Jun said residents had complained to environmental agencies in the past about the odor and smoke from open-air barbecues. But he does acknowledge the city’s pollution problem goes farther than just cooking outside:
“This action will help local residents, but to deal with the bigger air quality problem we need to have priorities and I think one of the major priorities should still be the motor vehicle emissions,” said Ma, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs. He said the focus should be on improving fuel quality and emissions control of heavy duty diesel trucks, while also involving the surrounding regions to combat pollution instead of narrowing in on Beijing alone.