|Members of an online community stage a rally at Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul, Monday, urging the government to come up with measures against fine dust. / Yonhap|
By Kang Seung-woo
Seoul City will help replace pollution-emitting delivery motorcycles and local buses with electric vehicles as part of its efforts to combat worsening air quality, the city government said Monday.
In addition, it will restrict old diesel vehicles in the downtown area and impose a fine of 250,000 won ($220) on violators, while pushing ahead with a plan to renew conventional household boilers with eco-friendly condensing devices.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government announced 10 actions to cope with fine dust air pollution.
Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon and the city government have made aggressive efforts to tackle the newly emerging environmental problem, as evidenced by the National Assembly passing eight fine dust-related bills that were pushed by Seoul City.
"A determined Seoul City will take all possible measures to prevent fine dust. We plan to cooperate on the issue with the central government as well as China," the mayor said in a press briefing.
"However, the measures will not pay off without public cooperation. I am pleading with the people to actively participate in our efforts."
According to the local government, motorcycles usually produce six times more nitrogen oxide emissions than small cars. Taking that fact into account, it aims to replace 100,000 two-wheeled vehicles in the capital with electric ones by 2025. Nitrogen oxide is a major source of fine dust.
To this end, the city government has reached an agreement with franchise chains such as Pizza Hut and food delivery app operators like Baemin Riders and Vroong, under which they will introduce 1,000 electric motorbikes by the end of this year. It added the replacement work is expected to cost 50 billion won in subsidies.
"Replacing 100,000 two-wheelers with electric vehicles will be equivalent to reducing traffic by 600,000 cars," said Goh Hong-seok, chief of Seoul City's urban transport division.
In addition, 444 out of 1,581 local buses, which are mini buses operating on short routes, will be swapped for electric buses by 2020 at a cost of 44 billion won ― 22 billion won from the central government and 22 billion won from Seoul City.
The city government is set to ban old diesel vehicles in its "green transportation promotion zone," a 16.7-square-kilometer downtown area.
To avoid possible confusion, it will give motorists a grace period until the end of November. After that, a fine of 250,000 won will be slapped on violators.
According to Seoul City, nearly 2.45 million vehicles registered nationwide will be subject to the ban and it is considering implementing it ban from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., although a final decision will be reached later.
Given that conventional household boilers are a major culprit for the worsening air quality, the local government will financially support residents to switch their current boilers to eco-friendly condensing boilers, which is expected to reduce not only fine dust but also carbon emissions, a cause of greenhouse gases.