Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli on Thursday called on local governments and various industries to make more efforts to improve air quality.
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli (C back) attends a conference on air pollution control in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei as well as their surrounding areas in Beijing, capital of China, May 15, 2014. Delegates from provinces and cities of the Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta also attend the conference. (Xinhua/Li Tao)
Zhang made the remarks at a meeting on air pollution control in Beijing and its surrounding areas, encompassing Tianjin Municipality and Hebei Province.
While praising local governments' "good start" in the fight against smog, Zhang stressed that this is a "long-term, arduous and complicated" mission and people must be clearly aware of the situation and retain the determination to solve it.
For the first quarter of 2014, the 13 cities in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei that are on the hotspot air pollution list saw their average PM2.5 readings drop by 9.5 percent year on year, PM10 down by 8.3 percent.
According to Zhang, air pollution control and general environmental protection should be incorporated into the region's coordinated development plans.
He called for unified industrial standards and environmental policies for Beijing and its surroundings as a foundation for industrial upgrades and environmental improvements.
The vice premier urged greater efforts to research and develop technologies and equipment to manage industrial waste, suggesting an air quality-oriented award and punishment system for officials.
Thermal power, steel, cement and other key industries should discard outdated production methods and adopt more environmentally friendly facilities, according to Zhang.
He also told the meeting that new energy vehicles must be promoted as well as the use of high-quality coals for heating so as to produce less waste.
During the meeting, the governments of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei as well as related companies signed an agreement with the National Energy Administration on replacing coal-burning with the use of natural gas.