China announces new measures to curb air pollution
Beijing: China's Cabinet has announced measures to curb the country's notorious air pollution, one of the many environmental challenges facing the country that are increasingly angering the public.
The broad measures approved by the State Council include putting strict controls in place for industries that produce large amounts of waste and pollution, but it will likely be up to local governments to work out the details.
In a meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang, the State Council approved 10 "tough measures to accomplish tough tasks," the council said in a statement on its website late yesterday.
These include a target to reduce pollution emissions by at least 30 percent in heavy-polluting industries by the end of 2017 a target that is more ambitious than any in the past.
Heavily polluting industries do already have emissions standards but they are not necessarily enforced and critics say they aren't stringent enough anyway.
China's growing middle class has become increasingly fed up with air, water and soil pollution that has resulted from development-at-all costs policies. Members of the public have virtually no say on industrial projects, and often protest against factories or petrochemical plants they fear could affect their health.
In February, the environment ministry announced six heavily polluting industries, including iron, steel, petrochemicals and cement, would have to gradually comply with "special" emissions standards, but details were unclear.
In its announcement of the new measures, the State Council said local governments should shoulder the general responsibilities for local air quality.
During periods of heavy pollution, the local governments should enact emergency response measures, such as restricting traffic or enacting emissions limits for polluting industries, it said.
Strict controls will be put in place for industries that produce large amounts of waste and pollution and hope to expand, while efforts to eliminate outdated technology in the steel and cement industries, among others, will be strengthened, it said. Construction projects that fail to pass environmental evaluations should not receive permission to go ahead.
China's new measures are intended to adjust the country's energy structure, increase supplies of cleaner-burning fuels such as natural gas and methane, raise the quality of car fuel and phase out older, more polluting, cars.
Some cities including Beijing already have raised their car fuel standards, but there has been no national approach.
The Cabinet also expressed support for the country's solar industry during its "production and operating difficulties."