Guangdong will attach more importance to protecting the environment and saving energy during its industrial development, deputies to the ongoing provincial people's congress said on Friday.
"Guangdong saw its GDP soar 14.5 percent last year. However, we are under growing pressure because we must control per unit of GDP energy consumption," Li Miaojuan, director of the Guangdong provincial development and reform commission, said.
Euro III vehicle emission standards will be implemented in the Pearl River Delta to aid protection efforts, she said.
"The standards will be implemented in Guangzhou on May 1, and then extended to the Pearl River Delta on July 1.
"The whole province will have to observe the standard by the end of next year," Li said.
Several other measures will also be introduced, she added.
For example, the commission is planning to close down all small thermal power plants and a number of cement and steel-making plants before the end of the year.
Power plants with a generating capacity of more than 125,000 kw will also be desulfurized this year, she said.
Also, due to the potential threat of a coal crisis, the province is speeding up construction of nuclear power and recycled energy sources.
More plants will install online pollution surveillance systems, congress deputies said.
Li Qing, director of the Guangdong environmental protection bureau, said: "The air quality in the province last year was worse than in previous years."
Discounting drought and other natural factors, vehicle emissions are the main reason for the poor air quality.
Deputies said they hoped the implementation of the Euro III standards will help improve the situation.
Li Qing said on Friday that the environmental protection authority has built up an air surveillance network that covers the whole of the Pearl River Delta and Hong Kong. A similar system has also been developed for monitoring river water quality.
In Guangdong, 149 factories that have a record of releasing large amounts of pollutants into the river, have installed the online surveillance system.
The bureau intends to install the same system in more factories this year.
Li Qing said about 6 billion yuan (US$830 million) will be spent in the coming years on reducing pollution in the river.
(China Daily January 19, 2008)