China targets cement, batteries, metals in anti-pollution push

BEIJING Fri Dec 27, 2013 1:42pm GMT

The sun is seen behind smoke billowing from a chimney of a heating plant in Taiyuan, Shanxi province December 9, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

The sun is seen behind smoke billowing from a chimney of a heating plant in Taiyuan, Shanxi province December 9, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China will raise standards for the production of cement, batteries, leather and heavy metals as part of its efforts to cut air, water and soil pollution, the environment ministry said on Friday.

Beijing, facing growing public anger over smog, contaminated food and unclean water, has said it will tackle the environmental costs of more than three decades of unbridled growth.

It has promised to get tough with under-regulated industries such as cement, iron and steel and coal but the central government has traditionally struggled to impose its will on powerful industrial sectors and local governments.

According to a notice issued by the Ministry of Environmental Protection (www.mep.gov.cn), China produced 2.21 billion tons of cement in 2012, 56 percent of the global total. Beijing aims to close around 370 million tons of outdated capacity by 2015.

The notice said the sector alone is responsible for 15-20 percent of China's total particulate matter (PM) emissions, a major cause of hazardous smog, as well as 8-10 percent of nitrogen oxide and 3-4 percent of sulphur dioxide, components of acid rain.

The revised guidelines will force producers to install advanced anti-pollution technologies to meet the new standards, including the control of at least 60 percent of nitrogen dioxide emissions.

China is also the world's biggest producer and exporter of batteries, including solar cells, and the new measures will seek to impose better standards and higher barriers to entry for the sector, a major source of heavy metal pollution in the country's soil and water.

Beijing's new leadership has sought to place less emphasis on economic growth and more on creating what it describes as "the beautiful China".

But it said earlier this week that it was struggling to meet a number of key environmental targets for the 2011-2015 period as a result of faster-than-expected economic expansion.

(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Anthony Barker)

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