Members of the Ulaanbaatar Chamber of Commerce (UBCC) addressed air pollution during their first meeting of 2017, with Mayor of Ulaanbaatar S.Batbold joining as a special guest.
Since the founding of the UBCC two years ago, it has focused on increasing jobs and improving the public’s living standards. The UBCC has organized several meetings to seek solutions for improving Ulaanbaatar’s business environment, as well as procurement and investment challenges.
During Wednesday’s meeting, UBCC President J.Oyungereal stated, “Entrepreneurs are concerned about air pollution. We’ll continue to introduce international practices and carry out projects and programs for fighting air pollution. When doing so, we will cooperate with the Ulaanbaatar administration, experts, and the National Air Pollution Reduction Committee.”
Mayor S.Batbold presented some facts related to air quality in the capital.
“Eighty percent of air pollution in the city is caused by ger districts. The development of heavy industry is usually the main cause of air pollution in heavily polluted cities around the world. In our case, it’s related to the use of normal stoves that don’t meet standards. It could be said that it’s easier for us to resolve this problem. I believe that it’s possible to reduce air pollution by changing our lifestyle and changing our old technologies. We will fight this issue in various ways. Most of all, it’s crucial for us to work together,” he told the meeting’s attendees.
The Mayor underlined that boosting economic growth is a key strategy to rid Ulaanbaatar of air pollution because poor living standards and poverty are two of the main causes of the pollution problem. He said, “If people have jobs and a regular salary, their living standards will improve. I hope that UBCC members also pay attention to this area.”
S.Batbold also talked about the three directives on air pollution reduction that he has issued as the mayor.
“I set a restriction on rural to urban migration after evaluating residential zones based on their air quality. In particular, people living in the 4th zone – located in the city center – have been ordered to stop releasing smoke from chimneys by October 1. Starting on October 1, Baganuur coal will be prohibited from being burned in Ulaanbaatar. The government will distribute clean coal, instead of raw coal, to families eligible for government support. The involvement of businesses in these activities is very important,” he said.
According to S.Batbold’s presentation, the city will enhance monitoring and encourage the public to participate in the city’s air pollution reduction efforts. City officials say that anyone who reports individuals or companies violating the new directives or significantly polluting the air will be rewarded.
“People can buy land only in the Bagakhangai, Nalaikh and Baganuur districts. New factories and businesses will be opened in Tuv Province soums that border Ulaanbaatar to create jobs. I encourage you all to support this work,” the Mayor added.
Representatives from several UBCC member companies shared information about their initiatives for fighting pollution. One presenter suggested developing the economies of the provinces and increasing the number of jobs available outside of the capital to keep its ger districts from expanding. Another presenter suggested that restarting construction and loan projects is the best solution for fighting air pollution. Other ideas included using LPGfueled buses for public transportation to reduce vehicle emissions, encouraging ger district residents to use thermal energy solutions to eliminate the use of raw coal, and expanding cooperation between the city’s administration and local businesses to engage in air pollution reduction efforts.
Mayor S.Batbold listened to the ideas presented by UBCC members and gladly accepted the offers of entrepreneurs to work closely with the city’s administrators on reducing air pollution in Ulaanbaatar.