Blue skies welcome visitors to Tiananmen Square as the opening session of the NPC got under way in Beijing. The government announced ambitious targets for reducing pollution levels in the country. Photo: Reuters

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg came under attack on social media as he jogged in China’s capital last year. The air pollution index was well into the hazardous zone at about 15 times of the level considered safe by the World Health Organization. That may change soon.

China’s Premier Li Keqiang pledged to reduce the emission of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide by 3% and have a “remarkable drop” for PM2.5, a fine particulate matter, in selected areas this year.

“Everyone shares the responsibility of controlling smog,” Li said. “We will see more blue-sky days if we work together.”

Around 300 million households in the northern part of China, where cold winter strikes, will use cleaner energy for indoor heating. Coal power plants in prefecture-level cities or beyond will be scrapped completely.

Energy efficiency for coal power plants in the middle and eastern part of the country should be improved by 2018, and those in the western province should aim for 2020.

The country will also ban the so-called “yellow label” vehicles, or those fail to meet emissions standards, and encourage those running on green energy.

Factories that fail to reduce pollution emission by deadlines should be closed down in accordance with the law, Li added.

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