BEIJING - Beijing will enforce the required use of low-sulfur coal from Aug 1 to tackle the air pollution that frequently clogs the skies of the country's major cities, the official Xinhua news agency said on Saturday.
Beijing will implement strict controls and targets for airborne sulfur from coal, Xinhua said, citing the Beijing municipal administration of quality and technology supervision.
This is the first time China has enforced the use of low-sulfur coal across all industries to tackle pollution.
Air quality is of increasing concern to Chinese leaders, as a more affluent urban population turns against a growth-at-all-costs economic model that has poisoned much of the country's environment.
A Xinhua editorial earlier on Saturday called for China's population to "rein in their craze" of excessive consumption to alleviate the country's growing environmental problems.
Beijing has previously established an array of laws and rules to battle the environmental consequences of three decades of unchecked growth. But weak monitoring and punishments make it tough to get powerful industrial interests to comply.
China unveiled plans at the end of last year to slash coal consumption and close polluting mills, factories and smelters to cut air pollution.
Beijing has also been pushing the country's steelmakers and power plants to buy higher-quality raw materials to meet tougher pollution targets.
Beijing's average PM2.5 index of 91.6 micrograms per cubic meter in first half of 2014 represents an 11.2 percent year-on-year decrease.
The airborne particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter are blamed for Beijing's notorious smog and the figure is still far above the national standard of 35 micrograms per cubic meter, the Beijing environmental protection bureau report said.
In first half 2014, the density of other major pollutants, such as PM10, SO2 and NO2, has fallen in the capital. Heavy-pollution days also dropped from 40 in the first half of 2013 to 25 this year.
In September 2013, a five-year plan was introduced to slash coal consumption, promote clean-energy use and reduce heavy polluters' production capacities.