|Yoo Je-chul, the head of the living environment policy office of the environment ministry, makes a presentation on strengthened countermeasures against fine dust at the Government Complex in Sejong, Thursday. Yonhap|
By Jung Hae-myoung
The alternate day driving ban will be expanded from the public sector to all drivers starting next February, as a strengthened countermeasure against fine dust, the government said Thursday.
Incentives for diesel cars will also be abolished because old diesel vehicles are one of the factors generating fine dust.
The government announced a set of toughened anti-fine dust measures, after high levels of fine and ultrafine dust clouded the nation for days.
According to the measures, drivers will be subject to an alternate day driving ban based on even and odd last numbers of license plates, depending on their emission discharging levels, starting Feb. 15. So far, the rule has been applied only to public servants and is only recommended for the private sector.
The government will also abolish the "clean diesel policy," promulgated by the Lee Myung-bak administration which argued that diesel cars had a higher fuel efficiency compared to gasoline cars.
It will end incentives for diesel cars purchases, including discounts at parking lots, and will expand financial support for those who got rid of old diesel trucks and buy ones that run on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). In the public sector, it plans to replace gasoline cars with eco-friendly ones such as electric.
As suspending operation of coal-fired power plants has proven to be effective in reducing fine dust levels, the government plans to shut down more from March to June.
The government will install air purifiers at schools and kindergartens, and help daycare centers measure indoor air quality.
Cooperation with neighboring countries to tackle fine dust will be strengthened, especially with China, to reduce the inflow of air pollution from the country. The government will cooperate with regional governments in China to outfit factories there with Korea's advanced technology on environment protection.
"When fine dust levels are high, the government will make all-out efforts, treating it is a natural disaster," an environment ministry official said. "The public sector will lead, so that the private sector will follow suit."