BEIJING - China will accelerate changes to its energy structure and place tougher controls on exhaust emissions and dust in its fight against air pollution.
The central government has laid out a number of detailed measures that identify large cities and regions with the most frequent smog and haze as key areas in the battle against air pollution, according to a statement released after the State Council's executive meeting presided over by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday.
A special fund of 10 billion yuan (S$2.09 billion) will be set up this year by the central government. The money will be used to reward efforts to curb air pollution in the key areas.
Other measures include promoting cleaner coal with low sulfur content and curbing coal consumption. Projects will be launched to transmit electricity across regions, which will speed up the adjustment of the energy structure, the statement said.
The State Council also pledged nationwide implementation of Phase 4 of the diesel fuel standard - which stipulates that fuel must contain less than 50 micrograms of sulfur per gram - by the end of this year.
Environmental experts said the policies will help carry out the Airborne Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan, a tough move taken by the central government five months ago to improve poor air quality.
Optimizing energy structure is one of the major issues and requires specific steps, said Wang Jian, deputy director of the Pollution Prevention and Control Department at the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
"For example, the action plan calls on Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei province to reduce regional coal consumption by 2017, which is simply a goal," Wang said. "To reach the goal, detailed measures need to be launched, including receiving power from outside the three areas, such as from the Inner Mongolia autonomous region and Shanxi province."
He said a central heating system metered by household, which was mentioned at the meeting, is becoming a trend and will develop quickly.
"By metering the heat by household, people can determine the room temperature by themselves rather than having to open windows if it gets too hot inside," Wang said.
"The move will see at least a 30 per cent reduction in energy consumption in the construction sector if all buildings are equipped with this metering system."
The Ministry of Environmental Protection will work with other ministries to hammer out 22 detailed policies that will help realise goals in the action plan, Zhai Qing, vice-minister of environmental protection, said at a news conference on Tuesday.
Chai Fahe, vice-president of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, said that the 'front-runner' project aims to reward companies with the lowest emissions or energy use per unit of production.
He said the government is paying more attention to using economic instruments to promote environmental protection, a method that can save resources.
The suggestion was also made to reward regional governments that improve air quality, instead of simply giving them money for clean-air projects, Chai said.
The central government also passed a revision to the regulation on the management of medical devices on Wednesday, as part of a move to reduce accidents involving such devices and push for an upgrade of the industry.
The revision to the Regulations for the Supervision and Administration of Medical Devices further raises the threshold for the production and operation of high-risk medical devices and simplifies procedures for low-risk products.
Production and operation facilities must assume responsibilities for the quality control and safety management of medical devices, according to a statement released after the meeting.
The amended regulation also increased the punishments for illegal activities and encourages innovation efforts by enterprises to develop better products.
The regulation, first passed by the State Council in 2000, focused on units or individuals engaged in the research and development, production, distribution, use, supervision and administration of medical devices.
The number of accidents involving medical devices in China has grown steadily since 2009, according to the China Food and Drug Administration.
In 2012, China reported more than 180,000 accidents involving the use of medical equipment, of which 108 were fatal, according to the administration. The number increased 49 per cent from 2011.