The Chinese capital has drafted a new five-year plan to clean up the environment and reduce air pollution by 2008, when it will host the Olympic Games.
Air pollution resulting from the use of coal as an energy source, auto emissions and dust from construction sites are the leading environmental problems in Beijing, said the city's Vice Mayor Liu Zhihua.
The average density of inhalable particles, a key indicator of urban air pollution, remains 165 micrograms per cubic meter in Beijing, 65 micrograms above the national standard.
Photochemical smog, which has struck some big cities in the United States, Japan and Australia, has occasionally occurred in Beijing during recent summers, Liu said Wednesday at a national meeting on pollution control in key areas.
The city government has drafted a plan on environmental protection for the 2003-2007 period, aiming to improve the overall environment and ensure an ideal environment for the 2008 Olympics, he said.
One step towards that goal is reducing dependence on coal. By 2007, the city plans to supply five billion cubic meters of natural gas annually, pipelined from China's western region, compared with 1.8 billion last year, Liu said. Other measures to reduce coal consumption include increasing electricity production and the use of clean energy.
Stricter standards on auto emissions will also be introduced in the year 2005. The city's emission standards are now in line with those adopted by European Union countries in 1996.
In spite of the sharp increase in the ownership of private cars, Beijing, with a population of 13 million, will expand its public transportation network to include a 200-kilometer track transportation system and some 18,000 buses, Liu said.
The city also plans to move more than 200 polluting factories outside the fourth beltway encircling the city.
(Xinhua News Agency July 3, 2003)