Seoul to increase R&D budget to tackle air pollution

SEOUL, June 26 (UPI) — South Korea will increase its budget for environmental research projects to address recent air pollution problems.

Lawmakers of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea and the Ministry of Science and ICT agreed on Tuesday to double the state funding for environmental research and development projects until 2022, in a meeting for national research and development innovation at National Assembly, Yonhap reported.

The increased funding will include environment research and development projects, especially those that study air pollutants.

Air pollution has been the most recent pressing environmental concern in South Korea with fine dust particles carried by the wind from Chinese industrial cities and also due to thermoelectric power plants on the western coast of the Korean peninsula.

“We agreed to expand the funding for research projects of fine dust particles and other air pollutants to more than 1 trillion won ($897 million) starting next year,” Kim Tae-nyeon, chief policymaker of the DPK, in the meeting.

Budgets for air pollution R&D projects will jump from the current 74.4 billion won ($66 million) to 108.3 billion won ($97 million) next year and from 23.2 billion won ($20 million) to 50.1 billion won ($44 million) for other environmental projects.

South Korea had 57 days with the “bad” levels of fine dust particles of 35 micrograms per cubic meter (㎍/㎥) last year, based on the air pollution level by the World Health Organization, according to Pressian.

South Korean weather authorities advise its people refrain from going outside in days with high concentration levels of air pollutants.