BEIJING – The Chinese government is seeking to improve its air quality by reducing emissions of major polluting gases, according to a report presented by the premier at the opening of the parliament’s annual session on Sunday.
Emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide will be cut by 3 percent as part of efforts to make the skies blue again, Li Keqiang said.
“Faster progress in work to improve the environment, particularly air quality, is what people are desperately hoping for, and is critical to sustainable development,” he explained.
Li acknowledged that many areas in China continue to suffer from severe air pollution and said the government needs to increase measures to tackle the problem.
To do this, he said, the government will help to replace the use of coal in more than 3 million houses with natural gas or electricity, shut down the coal-burning systems still prevalent in large cities, and renovate the coal-based power plants to reduce emissions.
The plan to modernize the coal-based thermal plants in the eastern parts of the country will be completed this year, while it will be finished in central regions by 2018, and across the whole country by 2020.
The government’s goals for the year also include a reduction of at least a 3.4 percent in consumption of energy per unit of gross domestic product.
Li said the steel production capacity will be reduced by 20 million tons and coal by at least 150 million tons this year.