BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing plans to ramp up its already tough car emission standards by 2017 in a bid by one of the world's most polluted cities to improve its often hazardous air quality.
Beijing's environment protection bureau, in a document published late on Thursday, said the new standards would be the toughest in the world, and more stringent than the current standards which are equivalent of those used in Europe.
The document did not specify any enforcement measures, but said the standards would cut by as much as half emissions from light gasoline-powered vehicles and heavy diesel-fueled vehicles.
Vehicle emissions account for 31 percent of Beijing's PM 2.5, a measure of breathable airborne pollution. The city has been at the forefront of the "war on pollution" launched by the central government last year after hazardous smog build-ups raised questions about the impact of China's manufacturing-led growth.
The environment bureau said Beijing currently has more than 5.5 million vehicles, with 600,000 new vehicles introduced every year, and that about half of the total would be compliant with the new Beijing VI standards within five years.
Beijing has already closed three of its four coal-fired power plants, relocated dozens of industrial plants and has been taking thousands of ageing vehicles off the road. The surrounding province of Hebei has also been set targets to shut down outdated steel capacity and cut coal consumption.
Concentrations of PM 2.5 reached an average of 85.9 micrograms per cubic meter in Beijing last year, significantly higher than the official state standard of 35 micrograms, and the World Health Organization's recommended 15 micrograms.
(Reporting by David Stanway and Kathy Chen; Editing by Miral Fahmy)