SEOUL: South Korean President Moon Jae-in has proposed a joint project with China to use artificial rain to clean the air in Seoul, where an acute increase in pollution has caused alarm.
Moon also on Wednesday instructed government officials to quicken the retirement of old coal-burning power plants, according to his spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom.
Seoul has been struggling to tackle the rise in air pollution that experts have linked to China’s massive industrial activity and emission from South Korean cars.
Fine dust levels in South Korea have hit new highs over the past week, leaving people wearing masks while commuting under thick-gray skies online users have compared to the scenes of the movie “Wall-E.”
In a meeting with government officials, Moon noted that China was “much more advanced” than South Korea in technologies for initiating rain and expressed hope that creating rain over waters between the countries would help mitigate air pollution, Kim said.
In January, South Korea’s weather agency failed on an experiment to create artificial rain, which involved an aircraft releasing chemicals into the clouds over the sea.
“China has claimed that South Korea’s dust flies toward Shanghai, so creating artificial rain over the Yellow Sea would help the Chinese side too,” Kim quoted Moon as saying during the meeting. Moon also proposed South Korea and China developing a joint system for issuing air pollution alerts, Kim said.
In a meeting with top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi last year, Moon said China was partially responsible for South Korea’s pollution problem and called for Beijing’s cooperation in Seoul’s efforts to improve air quality.