Last week, the people suffered a great deal since there were many days when the fine dust levels were at unprecedented highs. I feel truly sorry for not being able to find clear solutions to the frustrating problem. My Administration has been responding to the problem of fine dust more strongly than previous administrations by devising comprehensive measures, tightening standards on fine dust levels and legislating special acts. Consequently, the annual average level of fine dust has fallen, but high concentrations of fine dust are occurring more frequently. With the level of ultra-fine dust soaring to a record high under certain weather conditions, the impact felt by the public is actually worsening. Some now point at the Government, asking if we are sitting on our hands.
Resolving the fine dust issue is one of the policy tasks of my Administration for protecting the people's health. To make good on our pledge, we have to approach the issue as if the situation were tantamount to such disasters as extreme cold snaps or heat waves.
What the people want to see at the moment is a government that strives to do all it can. Now is the time to take every extraordinary measure available as well as exercise our imagination and creativity. I urge you to come up with additional measures to reduce fine dust levels, including developing a roadmap to curtail the number of diesel-powered cars and increase the number of eco-friendly vehicles on the road, increasing the suspension of operations at coal-fired power plants, reducing emissions from aged construction equipment and replacing old home boilers with environmentally friendly ones.
Ways to reduce fine dust at facilities for children as well as the frail and elderly should be devised simultaneously. We need to accumulate experience and speed up the advancement of related technology by researching, developing and implementing new methods – such as artificial rainfall, high-pressure water jets, cleaning with water, air filter purification and the installation of dust collectors.
A special act on the reduction and management of fine dust will go into effect on February 15, and a joint private-public sector special committee on fine dust countermeasures will be launched. I ask you to prepare well to make it an effective pan-government control tower and to strengthen your communication with the people. I also ask for the National Assembly’s cooperation in amending the Framework Act on the Management of Disasters and Safety and the Special Act on the Improvement of Air Quality in the Seoul Metropolitan Area. The former is to tackle fine dust with the same intensity directed toward a disaster and the latter is to expand the application of the law that caps fine dust emissions in the Seoul metropolitan area to other regions.