The State Council Wednesday passed revised air quality standards, which include an index for PM2.5, or fine particulate matter 2.5 microns or less in diameter.
The new standards include indices for the concentration of PM2.5 and ozone (O3) over a period of eight hours, according to a statement from the State Council issued after a meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao.
In 2012, the monitoring of PM2.5 and O3 will be conducted in four municipalities, 27 provincial capitals, as well as three key regions - East China's Yangtze River Delta, South China's Pearl River Delta, and the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area in the north, the statement said.
In 2013, the monitoring will be extended to 113 model cities on the state environmental protection list, and to all cities at prefecture level or above in 2015, the statement said.
Air quality across China has remained stable over the past five years and in some cities it has seen improvements with the concentration of SO2 and PM10 going down, the statement said.
However, the situation remains tough as the total pollutant emissions are still large and air pollution in some regions is serious, it said.
"We need firmer resolution and more effective measures, under higher standards, to remedy air pollution and steadily improve air quality," the statement said.
The country will continue cutting highly-polluting industrial projects in power supply, steel, building materials, metal, petrochemical and chemistry industries, it said.
In the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta, and Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area, China will actively promote clean energy, relocate highly-polluting industrial projects and introduce eco-friendly technologies into these projects, it said.
In these key areas, the country will raise pollutant emission standards and stop building thermal power plants, steel and cement factories.
The Greenpeace China applauded the government's detailed solution to air pollution, especially its focusing on phasing out out-dated industries and developing new energy.
However, the major issue concerning air pollution control in the key regions lies in the control of coal consumption, which was not given enough attention in the State Council meeting, according to Greenpeace China's energy director Zhou Rong.
"If we don't control the excessive growth of coal consumption, it will be difficult to really solve the air pollution problem," he said.
Xinhua - Global Times