28 Mar 2014

Who Benefit From Beijing Smog?

L writes:*

It is not news that waves of toxic particles smog attacked Beijing since 2014 January. PM2.5 became a new “popular” word in China. The residents complained about it, and everyone wanted the government to take action on it. It seems every resident is a victim; but who benefit from the Beijing smog?

First, people who often drive cars are winners, because they save their time and enjoy the convenience. But they are not the only ones who get benefits. Beijing is the capital city of China, also the most popular. It is not big but crowded. Almost 75% of its residents were not born in Beijing. They move to Beijing and work there for more chance. If people drive cars are winners, then people whose jobs are related to “driving” also benefit from the smog because they earn salaries on it. Car garage men, car sellers, gas stations workers, parking lots workers…and even the lady who sells soy beverage at a gas station all benefit from the issue.

Bottom Line: The smog is a result of economic development in China. It should be solved as a long term problem instead of expecting the government remove the smog during one night. Each resident of Beijing should be aware of their responsibility because everyone benefited from its development.

* These guest posts are from students in my resource economics class at Simon Fraser University. Please leave feedback on their logic, ideas and style and suggestions of how to improve.


  1. This article highlights some of the challenges surrounding air pollution in China. In your bottom line you mention that solving air pollution should be a long term solution, but you don't provide any recommendations. I realize space is limited, but perhaps next time you could include some possible economic solutions (such as cap and trade on emissions or emissions taxes). This would improve the quality of your post.

  2. i dont think drivers are winners. they just take less damage from smog, but that doesnt mean they get any benefits. and i think this will be a bad circle, people want to drive their cars because they dont want to directly contact with the smog. but this actually makes the situation worse.

  3. I don't think the drivers are winners. They are victims because the government has to force them to follow such odd-and-even license plate rules. For example, if your plate number ends with odd numbers, you can't drive on odd days. One reason to have this rule is to relieve the traffic congestion, another reason is to relieve PM2.5 from car emissions. The big polluters such as steel plants, oil companies are still polluting. As I know, the oil companies in China are still follow old emissions standards which similar to Euro III emissions standards. They don't want to improve the oil quality due to high cost and monopolistic market. The big polluters are the big winners, they are paying nothing for polluting.

  4. I don’t think drivers and people whose jobs are related to “driving” are winners; Exhaust gas has been incriminated as one of the causes of air pollution in cities, However, the main reason that caused air pollution in Beijing is because of the low production structure of the cities which are surrounded Beijing.By "low production structure",I meant heavy industrial operations outside Beijing.The winners should be the owners of those firms.

  5. I agree that drivers get some benefits in this case. However, we need to understand that why people start to drive. I believe that people are forced to drive because of too many people are using the public transportation. As you mention in the article, many workers, who come from other province,work in Beijing.In this case, I assume that most of them dont have car to drive. In additional, factories are the main winner from Beijing Smog; as we know that Smog consists of a lot of CO2 and most CO2 come from Coal combustion which Coal combustion is the primary energy in China.

    by 3705


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