Beijing air pollution
The Chinese capital has for many years suffered from serious air pollution. Primary sources of pollutants include exhaust emission from Beijing's more than five million motor vehicles, coal burning in neighbouring regions, dust storms from the north and local construction dust. A particularly severe smog engulfed the city for weeks in early 2013, elevating public awareness to unprecedented levels and prompting the government to roll out emergency measures.
Worst polluting Chinese cities to be named and shamed each month
Under new pollution plan, four areas must cut coal use and phase out dirtiest industries
Li Jing and Reuters
The central government set its first provincial-level coal-reduction targets yesterday in a bid to clean up its air, as a foreign car executive said his mainland counterparts could do more to reduce emissions.
The industrial region surrounding Beijing will be required to make cuts in its coal use and phase out the dirtiest industries under new, more detailed air pollution targets released yesterday by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
Four northern areas - Beijing, Tianjin , Hebei and Shandong - have been asked to cut their annual coal consumption by a total of 83 million tonnes by 2017, according to an official document.
The four areas currently use a combined 670 million tonnes of coal annually.
In addition, Shanxi and Shandong provinces must lower levels of tiny particulate pollutants smaller than 2.5 microns, or PM2.5, by 20 per cent by 2017 from last year's levels.
Levels of the pollutant - the most harmful to human health - should also drop by 10 per cent in Inner Mongolia during the same period.
These targets were in addition to goals set in the national clean air action plan released by the State Council last week. That document asks the three major industrial regions around Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou to cut their PM2.5 levels by 25, 20 and 15 per cent respectively by 2017.
The moves came as Volkswagen China chief Jochem Heizmann said China's car industry still had much room to lower emissions.
In an interview with German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, Heizmann said at times the air in some big cities was even dirtier than emissions from cars equipped with new engines.
"I'm not joking," Heizmann was quoted as saying. "The Euro VI diesel engine is installed with a sound purification system, so the gas coming out of that is even cleaner than the air that goes into it. But this type of technology is not yet applied on a large scale in China."
In an attempt to push officials to dispel the persistent smog crisis, Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli said the country would also publish a list of the 10 worst - and best - cities for air pollution each month.
Additional reporting by Reuters