Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli has called for resolute and steady efforts to combat air pollution in heavily-polluted areas surrounding the country’s capital.
Zhang, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the comments Wednesday at a meeting on the prevention and control of air pollution in Beijing and its surrounding areas.
At the meeting, the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) and the governments of six province-level regions signed an agreement on the goals and responsibilities for air pollution prevention and control.
The six regions, all located in the northern part of China, suffer the most from heavy air pollution, including capital Beijing, municipality Tianjin, provinces of Hebei, Shanxi and Shandong and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
Earlier statistics by the MEP showed that air pollution in Beijing and its neighbors Tianjin and Hebei was heavier than other parts of the country in August.
A total of 13 monitored cities in the region had about 20 of the 31 days in August failing to meet the required standards, said the MEP.
Describing the fight against air pollution as a “long-term, arduous and complicated task,” Zhang called for determination and steady methods that focus on key areas and are implemented gradually.
“Cities that are heavily polluted should be key targets, with strengthened supervision on various pollution sources and efforts to cut them down,” said Zhang.
According to Zhang, a list of ten cities with the best air quality and ten with the worst will be published each month.
He stressed less use of coal, clean energy as substitutes, emission reduction for automobiles, promotion of public transportation and environment-friendly industrial technology.
According to Zhang, during the coal-fueled heating period in winter, pollution monitoring should be strengthened, and low-quality coal should not be used for heating and cooking.
He also urged local governments to set strict goals and shoulder responsibilities for the quality of air within their jurisdictions.
The vice premier called for a system that enables coordinated anti-pollution efforts from multiple regions in supervision and law enforcement as well as an environmental information sharing platform.
According to the MEP, air quality in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei and their neighboring provinces has improved in the last five years, with a significant reduction of heavily polluted days, and another five years or more will be taken to further decrease heavy air pollution.
On Sept. 12, the ministry came out with a multi-pronged approach to deal with the country’s air pollution, focusing on the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area, as well as the Yangtze Delta and Pearl River Delta regions.
The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region is in need of more attention with higher aims, stricter control measures and greater government support, the ministry said.
In response to the ministry’s call, also on Sept. 12, the Beijing government issued an air-cleaning plan for 2013 to 2017, aiming at eight programs to reduce emissions.
The governments of the other five regions are also looking at ways to fight against air pollution.