Monday, April 19News For London

Reducing smog: Chinese documentary on London becomes hit

A documentary looking at air pollution has notched up some 100m views on Chinese portals. It looks at London’s ‘Great Smog’ of 1952. Reporter: Di Bai 

Chai Jing, a former Chinese state television reporter, released online Under the Dome. She published this documentary addressing a live audience in a style similar to a TED talk.

Chai Jing's 'Under the Dome' anti-pollution documentary
Chai Jing’s ‘Under the Dome’ anti-pollution documentary

As part of the documentary, Chai took field trips to London, and visited Battersea Power Station—a decommissioned coal-fired power station located on South West London. She also summarized what the British government had done after the Great Smog to solve the air pollution.

The Great Smog was a severe air-pollution event that affected London during December 1952. Visibility was reduced to a few yard making driving difficult or impossible. “It’s like you were blind,” she says.

Recent research suggests that 12,000 people died in London because of the smog’s effects on the human respiratory tract.

It is known to be the worst air-pollution event in British history and the most significant in terms of its effect on environmental research, government regulation, and public awareness of the relationship between air quality and health. It led to several changes in practices and regulations, including the Clean Air Act 1956.

Chai says: “A lot of people think it took forty to fifty years to solve the air pollution in London, but it’s not true.” She showed the graph of London’s air pollution between 1952 and 2000. “If we have a look of the graph, we can see that there is a huge drop in the decade after 1952,” she says.

The Chinese government fears that if its GDP slows down the country will become unstable. There are a lot of steel companies that don’t make any profits, but the government still trys to save these companies and save jobs.

Chai says what she had learned from the way the British government solved issues to do with smog was that they shouldn’t save polluting companies. “Environmental protection is not a burden, but an innovative. Let the free market work out for itself.”

Chai also pointed out the law was important. “No one is going to change the cars, no companies is going to buy the equipment of cleaning the pollution unless there is a strict law to punish.”

There have been some critical comments towards the documentary and Chai Jing. Some on social media said  the statistics in the documentary was fake and Chai did a lot of exaggeration.