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China releases five-year plan for cleaner air, water, soil

Xinhua, December 6, 2016 Adjust font size:

China's State Council has released a national plan on environmental improvements for the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020), detailing tasks to cleanse polluted air, water and soil.

The plan set the goals of a more environmentally friendly way of living, considerable reduction of major pollutants, effective control of environmental risks, and a sounder ecological system by 2020.

To achieve those targets, the State Council asked Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei, as well as regions along the Yangtze River Economic Belt to draw up a red line, or bottom line, for ecological protection by the end of 2017, while other areas should come up with a red line before the end of 2018.

Consumption of coal, which is a major source of pollution in China, will be strictly controlled.

Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shandong, regions along the Pearl River and Yangtze River Delta, and the 10 cities with the worst air quality should realize negative growth in coal consumption, according to the plan.

Specifically, coal use in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shandong, Henan, and regions along the Pearl River Delta should drop by around 10 percent during the 2016-2020 period, while consumption in Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui should fall 5 percent.

China's environmental protection still lags behind its economic status, and decades of breakneck growth have left the country saddled with problems such as smog and contaminated waterways and soil.

Northern China has frequently been choked by winter smog, showing the war on pollution is an urgent and arduous task.