Chinese Man litigate His Polluted Hometown for Cost of Fighting Smog
A man in northern China filed a lawsuit against his smog-enshrouded city’s environmental protection bureau, saying it owed him for the money he spent on an air filter and a treadmill to exercise indoors.
Li Guixin’s lawsuit, which seeks 10,000 yuan ($1,635) in economic damages from officials in Shijiazhuang, is the first of its kind in China, his lawyer Wu Yufen said in a phone interview today. A district court in the city will decide by Feb. 28 whether to accept the case, Wu said.
The lawsuit reflects growing public concern over air pollution in China and smog’s effects on human health. Smog here has reached an “unbearable stage,” the government’s top climate-change adviser, Li Junfeng, said Feb. 23, and the topic is likely to be addressed when the country’s leaders gather March 5 for the annual two-week meeting of the National People’s Congress.
“Li Guixin couldn’t take a walk or run like the past as air quality worsened and he also has to wear a mask now when he goes out,” said Wu, who also lives in Shijiazhuang. “His case is relevant for everyone in our city.”
Shijiazhuang is among the 10 cities with the worst air pollution in China, according to China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection. The city’s air quality index has rated pollution there “very unhealthy” for the seven straight days, prompting advisories for people to cut outdoor activities, according to data from the China National Environment Monitoring Center.